Are You a Self-Aware Leader?

Updated August 2022 – Although most organizations spend the majority of their training budget on technical skills, a large percentage of leaders do not have the necessary skills and emotional competencies to manage the demands of the new economy.

In Dan Goleman’s book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, his research shows that emotional intelligence (EI) is twice the indicator of leadership success as IQ and technical skills combined. He further explains that once people leave school and enter the workforce, IQ and technical skills are often equal among those on the climb up the professional ladder. The differentiator is emotional intelligence, and you can hear Goleman discuss his research in this video on YouTube.

Mr. Goleman has written several books and articles about how stellar career performance requires a leader to have a combination of business strategy knowledge and interpersonal skills. Many leaders don’t have the qualifications to mentor, lead, adapt, inspire and manage others on their team.

The Power of Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Drawing from decades of analysis of great companies, Mr. Goleman has identified that powerful leaders excel by connecting with others using emotional intelligence (EI) competencies like self-awareness and empathy. These skill sets lie outside the domain of technical skills or IQ.

The idea of emotional intelligence is rooted in psychology and neuroscience. It suggests when the emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, feels threatened it triggers a fight-or-flight response that can cause people to act irrationally. Acting in an emotionally intelligent way, one that is self-aware and aware of the emotions and motives of others, can help rewire our physiological responses in times of stress and crisis. Providing tools to leaders on how to self-manage and successfully communicate with others is highly effective in times of tension and complexity. We need more leaders who have the ability to deliver a difficult message in an authentic way, creating a trusting environment without hidden agendas.

What can you do to start to build on your own EI skills?

It starts with self-awareness. How do you respond in pressure moments? Are you able to understand and recognize your strengths and areas of challenge? Is there a voice in your head that is saying you are not good enough?

To become a self-aware leader takes time, guts, vulnerability and experiencing failure. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

How to become a more self-aware leader:

  1. Test yourself or take assessments Participate in a 360-Assessment, StrengthFinders, Disk, Myers-Brigg or Color Code. There are several assessments, and each one offers a great opportunity to learn more about yourself. Know your strengths and areas of challenge and get to know your peers and team members. Understand what ignites you and what triggers you.
  2. Ask for Feedback. Do you know how your emotions impact behaviors, and can you recognize when you have impacted someone else negatively? Ask your circle of influence how you are doing and what you can do to improve. Sometimes the best advice comes from others on your team. Find a mentor who is open to constructive feedback without becoming defensive.
  3. Identify patterns in your own decision making and behaviors, write down why you made a buying decision or why you hired someone or fired them. Did it turn out as you expected? Understand your own emotional needs and what causes you to be triggered. Understand how you respond during pressure moments and move away from bad habits that sabotage your best performance. Identify things that have happened in your past that may not be serving your present or future.
  4. Learn from your setbacks or failures. Don’t let a failure define you. Optimists view failure as a short-term setback. Are you willing to do something different and have you changed your game? Be willing to take a risk or be vulnerable to grow as a leader. Look at opportunities to balance intuition with reason and logic when taking risks.

Good self-awareness cannot be thought of as a soft science or new age meditation. They are vital to your leadership growth. As a business coach, I find many leaders are not aware enough to admit they even have a problem or opportunity for growth. Often that awareness does not come to them until they experience a significant setback. Don’t wait – develop your self-awareness right now and see the impact on your Emotional Intelligence, and then see how Emotional Intelligence will change the way you work and live.

Test Emotional Intelligence Online!

Ready to get started on improving your EI skills and self awareness? Try out our online EI test in partnership with IHHP. Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence also offers an EI course online to help you learn how to grow your leadership skills!

About the Author

Bobi Seredich is a recognized  emotional intelligence keynote speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. She can be reached at