Tough truths: Are you a selfish or self-aware leader?


In a pre-Covid-19 world (remember, when we actually used to go to work) the most successful and inspiring leaders had strong self-awareness; a high level of altruism, empathy and an ability to know their own faults and weaknesses. They were the ones who knew if they’d overstepped the mark and immediately reconciled their mistakes. Perhaps they’d put too much on your plate at work, or had a short fuse during a meeting. A great leader would acknowledge their errors and move on – with the loyalty of their team in-tact. It’s not that they would not make mistakes per se. We are all human after all. But they would have a radar that detected the impact of their behaviour. Great leaders may even have seen a lapse of judgement coming – and nipped it in the bud before it affected anyone in their team.

Fast-forward to now and our lockdown world. As a leader, are you still able to do all of the above? Or are you caught up in the moment and the difficulties you as an individual are experiencing? Do you feel like your patience – especially for others – is limited, your temper easily frayed? You’re not alone in the momentary disappearance of self-awareness, and the rise of selfishness induced by stress. But – and it’s a big but – if you still want the hearts and minds of your teams and not to alienate them, it’s time to muster all the energy you can into becoming a master of your own self-awareness once more. Now, more than ever, employees need direction, certainty, resilience and adaptability – driven by you.

Let’s have a quick recap. Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings. In the workplace, it’s important as it monitors your own emotions and reactions. And, it enables you to make better choices, that affect you – and others around you. It can even impact a company’s bottom line (according to a study by Korn Ferry).

Here’s how you can improve your self-awareness as a leader right now:

  • Identify your triggers – both negative and positive. Understanding and pre-empting how you respond and react can help you lessen any negative impact on others.
  • Be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses. The key here is to know when you’re firing on all cylinders or when you’re lapsing, and may need some additional support.
  • Continuously improve. Being self-aware, especially during stressful and challenging situations like the one we find ourselves in right now, takes work, practice and even renewed learning. It’s an ongoing process. Call on experts or trusted friends to help you better understand yourself, your triggers and your faults (we all have them). Feedback is like a mirror – uncomfortable, but necessary to see a true reflection.

Sherrie Campbell is the author or ‘Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person’. In her book she has this to say: “Self-awareness keeps us grounded, attuned and focused. When leaders are grounded, they are able to be efficient and deliberate in staying on task and being attuned to those around them. Leaders who have the ability to control their minds and emotions help to guide those around them to develop their own self-knowledge and success.”

I agree. Being in control of your mind allows you to lead people empathetically. Understanding yourself is the thread that weaves through all aspects of being self-aware. At the moment, you may not feel like yourself – let alone like a successful leader. But all is not lost. Acknowledging you need to reassess and take steps to reignite your self-awareness means you’re already getting your emotional intelligence back on track – for the sake of your business and your own sanity.

If you want help rediscovering self-awareness during this tricky time, do get in touch:

At Rosby Consulting we are experts in the wellbeing of leaders, so they are more effective in everything they do.

At Rosby, we’re on a mission to improve the experience of work for everyone. In doing so, we believe that people and businesses will thrive – creating happy, healthier workplaces.

Find out more about our services below.

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