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Unlock Your Leadership Potential Through Self-Awareness And Building Seven Key Traits

Written by: Sara Sheehan, 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 Sara Sheehan

Self-awareness will unlock your leadership growth. Self-awareness is a vital catalyst for growth and success in leadership development. Leaders can unlock their true potential and foster personal and professional growth by delving into active listening, cultivating a positive mindset, embracing meditation, practicing gratitude, and forming foundational habits. Let's explore these transformative practices that empower self-awareness and drive effective leadership development!

business team on a conference meeting

Active listening skills

Being fully present and engaged in conversations enables active listening, a cornerstone of self-

awareness. By understanding how we engage with others, we gain valuable insights to enhance every interaction, fostering growth and improvement. The value comes from seeing our role in a conversation and how we receive the next step from the other person.

David Rock's SCARF Model is a resource for active listening and self-awareness (Rock, 2009). This model provides a framework for considering the impact of our actions on others, enabling more fruitful conversations. The elements include status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. When you talk, you can consider how you impact those you are engaging with and move the conversation forward, ensuring that you encourage two-way participation and act non-threatening. Let’s learn more about each element of the model.

Status – where you are in relation to others around you

Certainty – concerns being able to predict the future

Autonomy – provides a sense of control over events

Relatedness – a sense of safety with others

Fairness – a perception of impartiality and just exchanges between participants

Not only do we gain insight into our surroundings when we practice active listening, but we also

practice invaluable leadership skills.

Mindset matters

Our inner dialogue shapes our thoughts and beliefs and can significantly impact our

professional and personal lives. Becoming aware of this dialogue allows us to harness its power and shift it towards positivity. By consciously focusing on our inner thoughts, we can reshape our mindset and steer ourselves toward success and fulfillment.

Meditation is transformative

We create space for quiet reflection through meditation and center ourselves amidst uncertainty and chaos. This practice enhances presence, resilience, and clarity, allowing us to navigate challenges gracefully. Utilizing meditation apps like Headspace, Insight Timer, or Calm can provide valuable guidance and support on this transformative journey.

Expressing gratitude

Cultivating gratitude instills positivity and shifts our focus to the blessings in our lives. Simple

practices, such as daily gratitude journaling or expressing thanks to others, promote a mindset of abundance and appreciation. The more we actively engage in gratitude, the more it counteracts negativity and becomes a lasting part of our lives. You can choose whether your gratitude practice is internal or expressed. You might post a LinkedIn post where you're grateful for the team member who went the extra mile. You might write a personal thank you note and put it in the mail. No matter your actions, you are shifting your mind and heart towards more positive things in your life. After a while, that practice becomes sticky, and your mindset shifts.

Forming habits

Foundational habits provide a solid framework for personal well-being and enhanced performance. They include regular exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet. Combining these habits with mindfulness amplifies their impact, increasing productivity and fulfillment.

Remember to give yourself time to form your habits. According to research, it takes 66 days to create a habit truly. Your brain's neurons connect at that time, and the action is more natural than before.

Personal growth

I've dedicated myself to self-awareness and personal growth for the past few years. I've immersed myself in books about mindset and its impact on our lives. Gratitude journaling has become a cherished practice, allowing me to acknowledge and appreciate the blessings in my life. Meditation has also become a regular part of my routine. But it doesn't stop there. I've taken the extra step of expressing my gratitude to others, empowering those positive thoughts with the spoken word. The impact is incredible! It comes as no surprise that these mindset practices hold immense value. They've granted me clarity, joy, and inner peace, enabling me to remain calm amidst the world's chaos and its news.

Self-awareness fosters leadership

By embracing self-awareness through these practices, leaders gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their interactions with others. This self-awareness fuels personal growth, improves communication, and enhances leadership effectiveness. Even amidst global challenges and news cycles, these practices cultivate calmness, resilience, and a focus on personal development. Let's empower each other's journey of self-awareness and leadership development.

Develop 7 essential leadership traits that nurture trust

Trust is the bedrock of exceptional leadership, forming the foundation for building strong teams and organizations. Effective leaders understand that trust is not a mere buzzword but a crucial element that fuels collaboration and propels success. They actively cultivate a culture of trust by embodying accountability, transparency, and open communication.

Actions accelerate trust building

Through actions like admitting mistakes and proactively addressing potential challenges, extraordinary leaders demonstrate their commitment to trust-building and foster an environment where individuals feel safe, supported, and empowered.

Establishing trust is a continuous journey that demands dedication and intentional effort. Exceptional leaders recognize its significance from the outset and proactively invest in trust-building strategies. They understand that trust is fragile and can be shattered instantly, and restoring broken trust can be an uphill battle.

Because of that, they prioritize trust-building as a fundamental aspect of their leadership approach, consistently nurturing it through their actions, decisions, and communication.

Exceptional leaders create trust

What makes a good leader? Google that, and you'll find endless answers. Exceptional leadership involves characteristics that forge a culture of trust. Traits for outstanding leadership include the following: insight, growth-oriented, approachable, community-minded, selfless, empowering, and ethics-centered. Let’s dive into each one in detail.

  1. Insight: Great leaders understand their team members, noticing when something is amiss and offering support when needed.

  2. Growth-Oriented: They prioritize the professional development of their employees, actively helping them reach their goals.

  3. Approachable: Employees feel comfortable seeking personal assistance from these leaders, fostering a supportive environment.

  4. Community-Minded: They prioritize giving back to the community, demonstrating a commitment to philanthropy and sustainability.

  5. Selfless: Putting the interests of their team members ahead of their own, these leaders inspire trust and loyalty.

  6. Empowering: They give their team members the autonomy to tackle challenging problems, situations, and conversations.

  7. Ethics-centered: These leaders uphold unwavering ethical standards, refusing to compromise for personal gain.

Leaders that embody these characteristics build trust, foster a positive team culture, and create a workplace where everyone thrives. By celebrating and acknowledging leaders who exemplify trust within their teams and organizations, we inspire others to follow suit and uphold trust as a vital value in leadership. Together, we can champion trust and create a culture where authenticity, collaboration, and growth flourish.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! How are you developing your self-awareness? Please share your story in the comments or connect with me to share your story personally on LinkedIn and visit my website for more info!

Sara Sheehan Brainz Magazine

Sara Sheehan, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Sara Sheehan, PCC, is a consultant and Executive Coach who works with C-Level executive leaders designing organizations, developing business strategies, managing change, optimizing talent and leadership development, and solving complex human performance problems. Through executive coaching, Sara helps leaders sprint their way up the corporate ladder and increase their performance.



  • Rock, D. (2009). Your Brain at Work (1st ed.). HarperCollins.



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