Call Us: US - +1 845 478 5244 | UK - +44 20 7193 7850 | AUS - +61 2 8005 4826

Developing Self-Awareness

You can’t be a good leader without self-awareness.

It lies at the root of strong character, giving us the ability to lead with a sense of purpose, authenticity, openness, and trust. It explains our successes and our failures. And by giving us a better understanding of who we are, self-awareness lets us better understand what we need most from other people, to complement our own deficiencies in leadership.

The question, then, is how can we cultivate and develop it further. There are many ways to do so. Below are five that I have found to work best:

Meditate. Yes, meditate. As most people know by now, meditation is the practice of improving your moment-by-moment awareness. Most forms of meditation begin with focusing on, and appreciating the simplicity of, inhaling and exhaling. But these don’t need to be formal or ritualistic — greater clarity can also come from regular moments of pause and reflection. Speaking personally, I try to gain greater awareness by simply finding a few seconds to focus on my breathing, often before sleep, and sometimes with one of the many apps available to help. During these meditations, I also ask myself a set of questions, among them:

  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • What am I doing that is working?
  • What am I doing that is slowing me down?
  • What can I do to change?

But the most frequent form of “meditation” I practice derives from carrying out seemingly mundane tasks that inspire a degree of therapeutic serenity, including washing dishes, working in my garden, and spending early Saturday mornings writing in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts as I wait for my son to be dismissed from his drawing class.