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Embracing Self-Awareness To Become Better Leaders

Written by: Dr. Helen Ofosu, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Dr. Helen Ofosu

Far too many leaders make the mistake of underestimating the importance of self-awareness – if they consider it at all.

Business woman doing yoga outside the office

In the dynamic landscape of modern leadership, self-awareness is a cornerstone skill that makes exceptional leaders stand out. The gap between satisfactory leadership and true excellence often comes down to this fundamental trait.

Exploring the gap between a leader’s intentions and impact reveals insights that can reshape how leaders engage with their teams and navigate challenges.

The self-awareness gap: Unmasking leadership potential

According to the Industrial/Organizational Psychologists at, 95 percent of leaders believe they are self-aware, while a shocking 10-15 percent actually are.

Leaders who lack self-awareness will encounter difficulties in maximizing their team’s potential. They cannot see the impact of their actions on their subordinates and others. Without an understanding of how others perceive them and how others perceive their behaviors, these leaders have problems relating effectively to members of their teams.

A big self-awareness gap limits a team’s potential for success, leading to detachment or disengagement and potential resentment between the leader and their team.

Recognizing and addressing the self-awareness gap is vital to fostering impactful leadership. Leaders who minimize this gap exhibit a deep understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and their impact on others. Such leaders aren’t driven by ego or solely focused on personal gains. Instead, they channel their awareness into cultivating authentic connections, steering teams toward collective success.

Navigating challenges: Self-awareness as the north star

A leader will inevitably have blind spots that could limit their perception of certain situations. But with intentional effort and a commitment to personal growth, a leader can increase their self-awareness and become a more effective leader.

Internal self-awareness involves looking inward and accurately reflecting on your behaviors, values, and motivators. It includes understanding who you are, your strengths, weaknesses, goals, feelings, and motives.

External self-awareness is understanding how others see us and how our impact is felt.

Narrowing this gap involves introspection, feedback from others, objective leadership assessments, mentors or coaches, and an openness to growth.

When challenges arise, self-awareness guides leaders like a trusty compass. It’s the key to decoding reactions, understanding triggers, and adjusting behaviors for optimal outcomes.

Leaders who cultivate self-awareness foster an environment of open communication, where transparency about personal strengths and areas of development fosters trust. This transparency leads to collaborative problem-solving as leaders and teams collectively adapt and thrive.

The evolution of leadership: Embrace, develop, thrive

Embracing self-awareness is a transformative journey that every leader should embark upon. Acknowledging one’s emotions, biases, and responses provides a solid foundation for insightful decision-making.

It empowers leaders to pivot from reactive to responsive modes, leading with empathy and adaptability. Post-pandemic, most people now have a greater appreciation for the importance of both of these characteristics. The process involves ongoing self-reflection, seeking constructive feedback, and nurturing emotional intelligence.

Transitioning from proficient to extraordinary leadership involves cultivating a culture of self-awareness within organizations. Encouraging open dialogues, where self-awareness is celebrated and seen as a catalyst for growth, ignites a leadership revolution.

Leaders who champion this transformation unlock their teams’ potential, shaping a harmonious workplace that values authenticity and fosters continuous improvement.

Pioneering leadership with self-awareness

Understanding our emotions gives us a window into the motivations behind our thoughts and actions. Additionally, this self-awareness enables us to authentically recognize our strengths and areas that need growth, providing a clear roadmap for acquiring the resources necessary to develop even more effective leadership.

By acknowledging and actively addressing the self-awareness gap, leaders set the stage for meaningful connections and collaborative problem-solving that often rests on solid relationships. This journey involves a commitment to constant self-improvement, harnessing emotional intelligence, and embracing challenges as opportunities for growth.

As we stand on the cusp of a revolution in modern leadership, let’s recognize that self-awareness isn’t just a skill—it’s also a mindset that fuels innovation, trust, and harmonious progress. It is the cornerstone that empowers leaders to thrive in a world where authenticity, adaptability, and empathy pave the way for enduring success.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Twitter/X, and visit my website to find more ways to become more resilient in your career.

Dr. Helen Ofosu Brainz Magazine

Dr. Helen Ofosu, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Helen Ofosu has been practising Industrial / Organizational Psychology (also known as Work or Business Psychology) in the public and private sectors for almost 20 years. In addition to Career and Executive Coaching, her specialties include the assessment and development of leadership skills, and navigating the complex issues of workplace bullying, harassment, diversity and inclusion. Dr. Ofosu is one of the founding officers of the Section on Black Psychology, Canadian Psychological Association and she’s thrilled to have written a new book “How to be Resilient in Your Career: Facing Up to Barriers at Work” that was published by Routledge in February 2023.



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