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What makes a great leader? Self-awareness

June 15, 2020
By Nicole Attias

In becoming more self-aware, workplace leaders can reflect and self-regulate different emotions that arise, writes Nicole Attias. (zenzen/Adobe Stock)

We often hear about strong leadership skills in the workplace involving building great teams, motivating others and providing inspiration for businesses to get to the next level.

Companies are always looking to hire “great leaders.”

There are numerous leadership quotes referencing hard work, building trust in others and demonstrating “the way” rather than telling people what to do.

However, the more appropriate question to ask may be: How do leaders evolve in the first place? How do they learn to do what they do? Does it start internally or externally?


Beginner tools for self-made leaders include the following:

Practising self-awareness

This goes beyond recognizing one’s own strengths and weaknesses.

Awareness is about understanding one’s emotions and how one reacts in different situations day to day or under pressure. Such awareness allows for self-knowledge and understanding. It allows for compassion in the human experience of life.

It involves self-acceptance and being comfortable in your own skin. Resolving issues from the past is a starting point.

In becoming more self-aware, one can reflect and self-regulate different emotions that arise.

For instance, one can ponder if he is performing tasks correctly or if there is a need to improve in certain areas. You will take the time to note what works and what does not. You are monitoring your feelings, thoughts and behaviours in different situations.

This observation is an ongoing practice.

Committing to self-improvement

Maximizing your strengths through self-knowledge is one thing. Working on your weaknesses is another.

Both are important. Leadership is about non-stop self-improvement.

It is impossible to be the same person as you were yesterday and move to the next level in life. You need to grow. And growth is often avoided because it is uncomfortable and painful. Others may view your ideas as absurd or impossible.

Implementing the habit of self-awareness and taking necessary action everyday toward self-improvement is the start of leadership from within.

Assessing your emotions, personality, values, needs and habits through regular self-observation is powerful.

Many avoid doing this hard work.

But it is imperative for understanding others, building great teams and taking charge in certain situations.

Nicole Attias is a business writer and prospect coach based in Toronto. She can be reached at nicole@prospect2win.com.

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