Are You Aware?

Self-awareness is a big management buzzword these days. This is actually a good thing because research is showing that when we see ourselves for who we actually are, we are more confident and creative. Self-awareness is one’s ability to look within and recognize oneself as a separate entity from their environment and other entities. It is about clearly understanding who we are as an individual and having a clear perception of our personality. Our personality includes our strengths, weaknesses, values, thoughts, emotions, and contributions. When we are self-aware, we make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships with others, and have the ability to communicate better with others. We are less likely to go against social values such as lying, cheating, and stealing. Those who are self-aware are better leaders with satisfied employees and profitable companies. When we are self-aware we are better at monitoring our strengths and weaknesses and we continue to develop and improve. (Eurich, 2021; Gulati et al., 2017)

There are actually two types of self-awareness that leaders need to work on to be fully self-aware. The first type we need to monitor is internal self-awareness. This can be described in a couple of different ways. Some say it is the ability to monitor our inner world. Others say it is a short-term state of self-consciousness. Still, others describe internal self-awareness as the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us. In essence, it is how clearly we see our own values and beliefs fit with our environment, passions, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, etc., and our impact on others. (Eurich, 2021)

The second type may be easy to guess. Not only do leaders need to have internal self-awareness, but they must also have external self-awareness. When a person has external self-awareness they understand how other people view them. People who understand how others see them, tend to show more empathy and are skilled at understanding others’ perspectives. In order to continue to grow as a leader, one must work on both of these types. It is not a one or the other type of situation. (Eurich, 2021)

You may think that the higher the position you have at work means that you are more self-aware, however, research shows you may be incorrect. Research actually shows that a small number of people, around 10%-15%, actually have a high level of self-awareness. This small number can cause a problem for management. As an individual grows and earns positions that have greater authority, they increasingly become less open to hearing feedback, especially if it is negative. In addition, when a person is in a position of higher authority, they are less likely to even receive feedback from their employees. Also, it is common, when moving up in ranks, to have more responsibilities that take you away from being able to think about your strengths, weaknesses, personalities, thoughts, and beliefs. You are probably spending more time problem solving and working on employee issues than you are thinking about yourself and your leadership. (Gulati et al., 2017; Lipman, 2018)

Promotions that lead to an individual obtaining a higher-level position can lead them to think that their management style is working. Leaders tend to get stuck doing what they have always done instead of continually working on improving who they are personally and as leaders. An individual should continuously self-reflect and work towards bettering themselves. Being self-aware will always help a person to grow and develop to meet the needs of our changing world. (Gulati et al., 2017) 


Eurich, T. (2021, April 14). What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It). Harvard Business Review.

Gulati, R., Mayo, A., & Nohria, N. (2017). MindTap – Cengage Learning. Cengage.Com.

Lipman, V. (2018, April 19). Do Higher-Level Leaders Have Lower Self-Awareness? Forbes.

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