Emotional Salary is the non-financial or emotional gains we obtain from working that motivate us, change our perception of work and lead to personal and professional development.

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How leaders become self-aware?

In this blog, we want to write about the topic of self-awareness because of it’s strong importance in the success of everything. That might sound like a very broad claim to say that something can be responsible for the success of everything, but hear us out.

Self-awareness is the first step in increasing emotional intelligence and maturity. Why? Because you cannot attempt to improve upon or solve a problem if you cannot first recognise and accept that there is, in fact, a problem.

What does it mean to be self-aware in business?

Being self-aware is when you have a clear perception of your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, and how you view or think about things.

Usually, a highly self-aware individual will be very understanding with other people and with themselves. They are often more compassionate. Being open to others enables us to face tough times with creativity and resilience. Empathy enables us to connect with people. It can help us deal with stress and sacrifices at work.

For leaders in business, self-awareness is of particular importance. As a leader, you are responsible for demonstrating the correct path to take and to show others how things are done. Some of the main characteristics that make up a successful leader are to be open-minded and adopt a keen awareness of your team and business activities.

It is also part of being a leader to monitor how your team is reacting to certain situations. Teams often serve as a mirror for our strengths as well as for our weaknesses, and the honest and conscious awareness of both is what makes us grow personally and professionally. As a leader, you need to have a strong understanding of how your actions and emotions can impact on others. How do you handle stress, for example? Could you become more aware of how you handle it and work on that so it doesn’t impact too heavily on your team?

Another part of the self-awareness process is learning to understand your reactions and decisions in certain situations. This can be very helpful in the workplace when stressful situations arise between colleagues, with clients, or even while working individually on solo projects. Understanding your triggers for stress and becoming more aware of them can help you acknowledge, prepare and respond to them more calmly when they do arise, which will overall make you a better worker and team member.

Ultimately, self-awareness allows leaders and managers to identify gaps in their leadership and management skills which in turn allows them to highlight the areas in which they are most effective as well as areas that can be improved upon This means owning whatever it is we discover about ourselves, even if we don’t like what that is, and finding out how to improve if necessary.

Woman looking through mirror Self-Awareness

Now that we know what it is and why it is important, how can we increase our self-awareness? 

The good news is that if you have already made it this far down this article, then you likely already have an interest in learning more about yourself. We would say that that is the first step in increasing your self-awareness – to recognise that it is something that exists, is important to you and those around you, and actively look for ways to improve it. For most people who are not self-aware, the reason they are not is often because they choose to believe that they don’t have many things to improve about themselves so they don’t see a need. It could also be that they don’t want to make the extra effort that is needed in order to improve ourselves.

I’m sure you know by now that any good internal practice on the path to self-improvement begins with understanding yourself, so the next step is to try and look at yourself and your actions more objectively, rather than subjectively. Ask yourself honestly, what are you good at? What strengths do you bring to your team? What are some talents you have but don’t take advantage of? It can be hard not to put yourself down sometimes, but this is a good exercise in being truly honest with yourself and not allowing self-confidence or self-doubt to sneak in. Be strict. Focus on the strengths you know you have. Then, make note of the areas that you are not currently strong in and where you could use help or guidance. Be open to feedback. Even better if you can intentionally expose yourself to receiving feedback.

Following that, our next piece of advice on the road to self-awareness is to listen. Really listen to what people tell you about your work or your actions. Compliments can be hard to accept but the key thing to notice is who they are coming from. The same goes for demotivating or negative comments. Do you value and trust the opinion of the person sharing their thoughts with you? This thought process might help you gain more clarity and become more self-aware about the truth you hear from others, whether it’s a compliment from a valued team member about a project you worked on, or a negative comment from someone who has no idea what is involved in your work.

In summary, an increased level of self-awareness in the workplace can help you to become a better employee, manager and leader by truthfully acknowledging the areas where you are stronger and weaker so that you can better adapt to workplace situations and decisions.

We can help you on your road to becoming more self-aware by focusing on the Emotional Salary element specific to your current workplace. If this is something you would like to explore, send us (Marisa and Clodagh) a message at [email protected] and let us know what your personal or professional goals are, and let’s have a chat about how we can help you achieve them.

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