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Self Awareness Tools to Make You a Better Leader

A growing body of research has shown that self-awareness is a crucial trait of successful business leaders. The ability to monitor our emotions, thoughts and behaviours is key to understanding ourselves better – and our interactions with those around us.
Here are three ways to bring a level of self-awareness to your professional life.


In a recent study examining 72 executives, a high self-awareness score was found to be the strongest predictor of overall success.

Achieving a level of self-awareness allows us to perform at our best, both personally and professionally. By learning about ourselves, we are able to understand why we behave in a certain way, which allows us to recognise and embrace our strengths.

Once we have started to learn and understand our own personality traits, we can start to understand the types of people around us. This helps us to communicate better with others and remove the barriers that create communication chaos.

For example, if you seek advice from someone with the same personality profile as you, they are likely to provide a solution that you can relate to and understand more easily. On the flip side, seeking out the views of people with polar opposite personality traits will help you to see a broader view.

Here are three ways to assess your personality and performance.


The Self Reflection Diary

A simple tool is to complete a self-reflection diary every day. With our demanding schedules, daily self-reflection is easier said than done. There is always pressure to do more with less and it takes time and commitment to self-reflect in an honest manner.

Start by setting aside just 15 minutes each day and use a journal to answer this simple question – ‘what worked well today and what could I do differently?’ 


Myers-Briggs Testing

A personality and psychometric test that helps you to understand your personality traits is invaluable. A popular test is Myers-Briggs, or MBTI, which gives you a greater insight into how your personality impacts how you interact with and influence others.

In particular, it helps you become more appreciative and tolerant of other styles of communication and patterns of behaviour, which is invaluable in a work environment. By understanding our type, we can understand the dynamics of a situation and how that dynamic was influenced by the personalities involved.


Recognising the ‘Inferior Function’

Being aware of how you tend to act when stressed is key to self-awareness. Recognising these behaviours, and learning to manage them, actually has its own theory – know as the ‘Inferior Function’ in Carl Jung’s typology.

The Inferior Function is usually a hidden part of our personality that rears its head during times of stress, fatigue and illness. As the stress continues to increase, the inferior function ‘erupts’ and, being the least developed function, it appears as immature and obsessive in its manner. This is usually a short lived episode and we can learn to recognise the behaviour when it appears so that we can prevent it from damaging our relationships and reputation.


Regardless of the method you choose, having a level of self-awareness is invaluable when we are experiencing conflict in our work or home life. And by understanding the different preferences of the people in the room we can figure out how to resolve an issue quicker, and who wouldn’t want that?


About the Author

Susan Manning is an accredited Executive Coach, Consultant, Leadership Facilitator & Mentor committed to developing people and organisations to be their best.

A seasoned HR executive, with over 20 years experience working for both multi-national and individual companies, Susan is based in Cork, Ireland.  By creating a thinking environment, Susan enables clients to understand what is going on for them and what is the question that really needs answering.

Contact Susan on 087-210 6432 or


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