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Leadership and self awareness

Self Awareness is NOT enough

Recently, I was delivering a program on Emotional Intelligence for the leaders of a financial institution

One of the sessions was on Self-awareness, which is one of the foundations of being a high EQ header

We did a few experiential activities during the session and there was a lot of engagement from the participants

Most of them came into the session with a pre-conceived notion that they are highly self-aware

And that’s the first challenge….

Self-awareness is almost a buzzword nowadays

Most leaders BELIEVE that they are highly self-aware

Which is a great first step for sure, but what does it truly mean for them is not often clear

And that’s the second challenge….

Most of us have a limited understanding of self-awareness 

The typical response I get is – “I am aware of strengths and weaknesses”

And that’s just a myopic view

Self-awareness means a lot more and goes much deeper….

..Your values and your beliefs

..Your limiting beliefs

..Your fears and your self-doubts

..Your intention as a leader

..Your emotions and your feelings

..The impact of your thoughts and actions on others

There’s so much more to it

And you can believe that you are aware of this, which would be a great place to be

But the biggest challenge with self-awareness is that most leaders stop at that

The truth is…

Self-awareness alone is NOT enough

Why ?

If self-awareness DOES NOT lead you to.. 

..Managing and regulating yourself better

..Making different choices

..Taking different set of actions


Self-awareness is NOT helping you

Nothing really changes for you

It’s like this…

We all are aware that we should not eat junk food

At a self-awareness level, this translates into “I am aware that junk food will harm me”

Yet, so many of us indulge in it

You are aware of it, but not doing anything about it

This awareness itself is not helping you improve your health

It will only help you if you make a choice ( and act on it ) to not eat junk food

It’s a crude example, but you get the point, right ?

So remember..

Self-awareness is NOT enough

It SHOULD lead you to influence your thoughts, emotions, decisions and actions

Only then you will start seeing different outcomes and new possibilities

So the real question for you is not whether you are a highly self-aware leader or not

The real question :

Is your self-awareness leading to self-influence ?

So here’s a quick reflective exercise for you :

  1. What are you aware about yourself ?
  2. What are you NOT aware of ? This is a tricky question as your first instinct would be to say – how can I write something I am not aware of, but believe me, you might just know some of it
  3. What personal decisions or actions you are NOT able to influence today ?

Complete the following sentences as part of the above :

I am aware that I am___________________

I am NOT aware how of_________________ 

( examples – I am NOT aware what makes me angry OR I am NOT aware which strengths I am not utilizing and so on ) 

I am NOT able to influence_______________  ( personal decisions or actions )

I would be interested to know what came up for you as you read and reflected on this email

Do share your thoughts and feedback


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