What is the most important characteristic of a leader? Some might say it's integrity. Others may say that it's being a good motivator. But psychologist and author Sherrie Campbell believes that self-awareness — the ability to monitor one's own emotions and reactions — is the key factor in leadership success.
"Self-awareness keeps us grounded, attuned and focused," said Campbell, author of "Loving Yourself: The Master of Being Your Own Person" (AuthorHouse, 2012). "When leaders are grounded, they are able to be efficient and deliberate in staying on task, and being attuned to those around them. Leaders who have the ability to control their minds and emotions help to guide those around them to develop their own self-knowledge and success."
Learning to be aware of yourself isn't always easy, but mastering this skill can help you become a much more effective leader. Campbell shared these seven tips for improving self-awareness. [4 Tips For Teaching Leadership Skills]
- Keep an open mind. When you have the ability to regulate your own emotional world, you can be attuned the emotions of others. To be a successful leader, you have to be curious about new people and all they have to offer. This shows that you can be a team player, and don't need to be No. 1. The more open you are to others, the more creative you become.
- Be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses. Self-aware individuals know their own strengths and weaknesses and are able to work from that space. Being mindful of this means that you know when to reach out for assistance, and when you are good on your own.
- Stay focused. Making connections with those around you is important as a leader. But you can't make those connections if you're distracted. Train yourself to focus for long periods of time without getting sucked into social media, emails and other small distractions.
- Set boundaries. A leader needs to have strong boundaries in place. Be warm toward others, but say no when you need to say no. Be serious about your work and your passions, and keep your boundaries firm to maintain the integrity of your goals and the work you put into them.
- Know your emotional triggers. Self-aware individuals are able to identify their emotions as they are happening. Don't repress your emotions or deny their causes; instead, be able to bend and flex with them, and fully process them before communicating with others.
- Embrace your intuition. Successful people trust their gut instincts and take the risks associated with them. Your instincts are based on the survival of the fittest and the need to succeed. They tell us what to do next. Learn to trust these and use them.
Practice self-discipline. Good leaders tend to be disciplined at work and in every area of their life. It is a character trait that provides them with the enduring focus necessary for strong leadership.