Know Thyself: Becoming a Self-Aware Leader

     Seeing yourself accurately is vital to effective leadership.

     As a leader, if you lack self-awareness, you may know how to do leadership but not know how to be a leader. This combination results in ineffectiveness and sometimes failure. Doing leadership involves things like recruiting volunteers, developing strategy and executing organizational objectives with excellence. Being a leader is the more subjective element that includes things such as reading a room, knowing if people like you and trust you and adding value to the right person in the right moment in the right way. This is much more complex and involves personal awareness to do it successfully.

     The following five areas will give you insights to help you become more self-aware.

  1. History

     You have childhood experiences, memories, successes and failures, secrets and regrets, joys and best days, your first job and so much more. All these things—and more—make up the real you.

     The combination of wounds and scars along with successes, failures, and highlights have a profound impact on how you see yourself today. The better you understand your past, the more self-aware you become.

  1. Emotion

     Are you aware of how you behave when you are hurt, embarrassed, or frustrated? Your emotions may run close to the surface while others on your team may keep emotions tucked away more privately inside. Neither way is right or wrong. The goal is emotional maturity, which is assessed by how well you respond in everyday situations.

     Your emotional self-awareness, or lack thereof, is either a great asset or a detriment to your leadership.

  1. Motivation

     What makes you tick? What fuels you? What gets you pumped up in the morning about the day? Knowing what motivates you is vital to a strong sense of self-awareness. We are often conflicted by a gap between what we know to be true and what we actually think, feel and desire.

     An accurate awareness of what motivates you allows you to examine that motivation honestly, and determine if you are handling it correctly.

  1. Ability

     What are you good at doing? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What comes easily and naturally to you, and what is a struggle? What do you have to work extra hard to finish?

     As you gain experience, it is vital that you become accurately aware of your true skills and abilities so you can be the most authentic and effective leader possible.

  1. Social

     Do you know how others perceive you? Do people like you? The next question is even more critical: Do you know why? Understanding social interaction, connection, and how people see you is basic to good leadership.

     I highly recommend, regardless of your level of experience, that you periodically ask friends who are smart, strong, and love you to tell you the truth. Give them permission to tell you how they and others perceive you. Compare that to how you see yourself. Then go to work on closing the gap and becoming more self-aware.


This article was extracted from Issue 2 (Summer 2020) of the AVAIL Journal. Claim your free annual subscription here.



This article was written by Dan Reiland



Dan Reiland is the Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.


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