The importance of self-awareness in leadership has grown significantly in recent years, with many organizations acknowledging that it is a vital trait for successful leadership. However, as we have discussed throughout the last month, research shows that genuine self-awareness is a rare quality. Many individuals believe they possess self-awareness, but the reality is often quite different. Even professionals who speak about self-awareness may not be self-aware themselves, which raises the question of whether we, as individuals, are truly self-aware.

Lack of self-awareness can lead to poor decision-making, an inability to identify weaknesses, and ineffective communication. CEOs who possess self-awareness have a better understanding of their strengths and limitations, allowing them to make informed decisions, communicate effectively, build stronger relationships with their teams, and run their companies more effectively.  

There are two types of self awareness that are often spoken about and confused with one another. Internal self-awareness involves understanding one’s own values, passions, and aspirations, as well as how these factors align with their environment. Leaders who have a clear understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and emotions can effectively manage themselves and their team. 

External self-awareness is equally essential for leaders as it involves understanding how others perceive them. Leaders who lack external self-awareness may struggle to understand why their team members are not responding positively to them.

It’s easy to assume that being high on one type of awareness would mean being high on the other. But research shows virtually no relationship between them. Tasha Eurich, a workplace psychologist, author, and principal of The Eurich Group, has created 4 self-awareness archetypes to better understand this finding:

  1. Introspectors: They’re clear on who they are but don’t challenge their own views or search for blind spots by getting feedback from others. This can harm their relationships and limit their success. Introspectors have high internal self-awareness, but very low external self-awareness.
  2. Seekers: They don’t yet know who they are, what they stand for, or how their teams see them. As a result, they might feel stuck or frustrated with their performance and relationships. Seekers have low internal self-awareness and low external self-awareness.
  3. Pleasers: They can be so focused on appearing a certain way to others that they could be overlooking what matters to them. Over time, they tend to make choices that aren’t in service of their own success and fulfillment. Pleasers have low internal self-awareness, but high external self-awareness.
  4. Aware: They know who they are, what they want to accomplish and seek out and value others’ opinions. This is where leaders begin to fully realize the true benefits of self awareness. This group has high internal self-awareness and high external self-awareness.

All CEOs should strive to be Tasha Eurich’s archetype aware. CEOs who are committed to developing their internal and external self-awareness, and are open to constructive criticism from those who have their best interests at heart, will undoubtedly gain deeper insights into their own strengths and weaknesses, and therefore be better leaders. By embracing the power of introspection, they can become more attuned to the root causes of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, leading to greater self-knowledge and personal growth. Tune in next week a discussion on Socrates and introspection for CEOs.