Are You Aware That You are Unaware?

Man unaware that he has body odor because he lacks self awareness

A major stumbling block to effective leadership is a lack of awareness.

So, let me ask you. Are you aware of how you come across your team members?

Although your self-worth should not be dependent on other's opinion of you, knowing yourself and how you come across to others is critical in developing effective leadership.

A critical component of effective leadership is an ability that can be achieved by developing your skill in the competency of Emotional Self-Awareness.

Emotional Self-Awareness = Exceptional Leadership

Self-awareness gives you a better grasp of who you are as a person, your feelings, habits, and tendencies. This is key to unlocking your and your team's full potential.

In his talk on Leadership and Emotional Intelligence, Harvard Business School Professor Joshua Margolis emphasises the importance of self-awareness in leadership when he pointed out that, "Self-awareness is about developing your capacity to sense how you come across, to have undistorted visibility into your strengths and weaknesses, and to be able to gauge the emotions you're personally experiencing. If you want to motivate others to action, you cannot allow your own emotions to get in the way."

Ferry International's study corroborates the above statement. It reveals that organisations with self-aware managers have a better rate of financial return. Additionally, it gives proof that self-aware leaders perform better at work because they have more positive relationships with their colleagues and team members, are more capable of providing constructive feedback, and are less stressed than their less self-aware counterparts. Another study also found out that self-aware leaders are more likely to pass on self-awareness to their team members.

In gist, these studies tell you that emotionally self-aware leaders can: recognise their feelings, differentiate between them, know why they are feeling them, and recognise the impact their feelings have on them and on those around them.

For instance, when a team member makes a mistake, an emotionally self-aware leader provides logical feedback rather than lash back with an emotionally fueled tirade. Giving logical feedback helps a team member grow and learn from mistakes instead of developing a low morale and disengagement from the leadership.

Not Aware That They are Unaware

Despite the critical role of emotional awareness in leadership, research indicates that self-awareness is lacking in most leaders.

In a global study of 17,000 people, the Hay Group Research revealed that women CEOs were more self-aware than men, at 19% versus 4%. While women in senior roles tend to be more self-aware than males in similar positions, the overall percentages show there is a lot of room for improvement and that many leaders are not aware that they are unaware.

Tasha Eurich, a Harvard researcher and an organisational psychologist, studied 5,000 people over four years to learn what self-awareness is, why it's important, and how to cultivate it. And the most notable finding in that study was, although most people think they are self-aware only 10 to 15% are.

How about you, are you Emotionally Self-Aware?

If you're wondering about the strength of your emotional self-awareness, that is, whether you are emotionally self-aware or not, take this quiz from the Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence. This will provide you with an estimate of your current level of emotional self-awareness and the amount of work required to improve it.

It is important that you set aside time to respond to the questions.

Carefully and genuinely respond to them to obtain an accurate assessment.

SET A: Answer the questions with a YES or a NO.

1. Are you able to determine which emotions are you feeling and why are you feeling them?

2. Do you realise the links between your feelings and what you think, do and say in the moment?

3. Do you recognise how your feelings affect your performance?

4. Are you able to articulate your feelings and appropriately express them?

5. Are you able to tell, in the moment, when you are getting upset?

SET B: Answer the questions with a YES or a NO.

1.Do you receive messages from your body in the form of chronic headaches, lower back pain, neck or shoulder pain, an increased heart rate, sweaty palms, anxiety attacks, or other distress signs but cannot identify a cause?

2.Do you fail to gain insight and information from what your body might be trying to tell you?

3. Do you get irritated, frustrated or angry easily, causing you to treat people in an abrasive manner?

4.Are you unable to see that what you are doing or being asked to do might not be aligned with your personal goals and values?

5. Do you often feel stressed and out of balance regarding your work life, health and family?


Tally your score.

Give yourself 1 point with every “YES” in set A and with every “No” in set B.


How have you scored?

If you scored 0-5. You need to work on your Emotional Self-Awareness. You can develop this competency by following the developmental tips and through coaching. Having a coach make you have someone to mentor you and guide you through the process of developing and strengthening this competency.

If you scored 7-9. Your Emotional Self-Awareness may need some improvement. You can further improve on this competency by following the developmental tips provided.

If you scored a perfect 10. You are an emotionally self-aware person. Continue strengthening this competency by continually reviewing and practicing the developmental tips.

Here are some developmental tips to improve on your Emotional Self-Awareness:

• Regularly check in on your feelings. During the day, schedule brief but frequent check-ins on what your body might be feeling and check in on your emotional state as well.

• If you find yourself clenching your teeth, tensing your shoulders, feeling worn out or worn down, stop and ask yourself what your body is trying to tell you – are you feeling strained? Stressed? Anxious? Fearful? Overwhelmed? Discouraged? Burned out?

• Name your emotions and connect them specifically to a source or to a situation, concern, or issue.

• "Listen" to what your emotions might be telling you in that moment.

• Use the information that bubbles up from inside, listen to your intuition to gain insight that could guide you in dealing with the issue or challenge.

• Take the time to be introspective, to listen to that quiet inner voice. Put aside some of your goal-oriented activities and think. Take long walks, know your core values, and stop thinking of your emotions as irrelevant or messy. Our emotions are essential sources of valuable information.


Lao Tzu could not have said it best:

"Knowing others is intelligence. Knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”

Are you currently bringing out your best in your leadership by developing your Emotional Self-Awareness, or is it time to get some help in this area?

We Are Here to Help

We Are Here to Help

At People Builders, we have a team of expert trainers and coaches who can help you in building you and your team’s Emotional Intelligence. Contact us today for a quick chat to see how we can partner with you to train and coach you and your team.

If you are interested in becoming certified to be a trainer and coach in Social and Emotional Intelligence, Applied Neuroscience, or Extended DISC, go to our People Builders Institute website.

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