Self-Awareness: A Life-Long Leadership Journey

Everything you need to achieve your leadership breakthrough is within you.

This treasure within unlocks a more significant leadership impact, opens doors to business development opportunities, and creates the path for career advancement.

What is it?


When you are in tune with yourself (your feelings, emotions, values, aspirations, strengths, and weaknesses), understand how others perceive their interactions with you, and use this information to self-manage, you have heightened self-aware. As a result, you position yourself for change, growth, and more influence.

Self-awareness is not a destination; it’s a journey.

Daily opportunities exist to become more self-aware – start with knowing WHY you do what you do, HOW you bring your motivation to life, and WHAT others can ultimately expect from you as you impact this world (WHY.os, WHY Institute). You can begin your WHY.os Discovery here.

Deepening your self-awareness brings more dimension and understanding into how your interpersonal interactions land with others and how you can self-manage to have an even more positive effect.

Why Self-Awareness Matters in Business

A Korn Ferry study of publicly traded companies found that companies with strong financial performance tend to have employees with higher levels of self-awareness than poorly performing companies.

However, research by Tasha Eurich, Ph.D., indicates that only 10% – 15% of leaders have mastered self-awareness.

A Quick Hit Guide

While reactive feedback helps develop self-awareness, proactive actions help refine your leadership through heightened awareness. Use this acrostic to guide your efforts:

S Engage Sincerely in the Self-Awareness Process.

Be confident in your success, yet vulnerable and open to making a shift if needed.

Be willing to look within to know your strengths and weaknesses that are not readily apparent yet powerful behavior influencers. Likewise, look outward to understand how others perceive their interactions with you – not what you think, but what they think – what they say to others when you are not in the room.

During my corporate career, it became evident that having a sponsor who speaks up for you is essential. And it’s priceless when what the sponsor says to you is the same as what they tell others about you. With heightened self-awareness, you can manage the narrative through consistent, effective leadership behaviors.

E – Explore the Full Scope of Your Experiences.

Consider the full scope of your experiences from early childhood to the present – not just the most recent past or those that created the best or worst memories. Think about the career moves you have experienced – those you enjoyed and those that fell short of expectations. What do you glean from your experiences that explain how you approach leading others?

L – Level Set on Life’s Defining Moments.

Consider the people and events and how they have shaped who you are today. For example, I grew up in rural Mississippi during the 70s and the Women’s Movement, enjoying Helen Reddy’s song, “I Am Woman.” That likely instilled a degree of independence and commitment to finding a better way to succeed in my career.

F – Frame Your Reality.

Assess how culture, background, and experiences have shaped who you are today – and the person you continue to evolve in becoming. My parents were laborers. They instilled in their children the value of hard work. Their mantra was, “Work hard, people will see what you’re doing, and you’ll get ahead.”

That focus worked well for their time and workplace environments, but my career reality differed. Meeting performance expectations was essential, yet only a part of the equation. Relationships are crucial in framing my reality (and likely yours).

A – Analyze Your Professional Environment.

Many workplaces no longer operate in a hero leader or command and control model. Determine the leadership behaviors needed to work effectively with colleagues (including your direct reports) to achieve desired business goals and results. Assess the traits, habits, and tendencies others see in you that you cannot see in yourself – these could be strengths or self-limiting behaviors that reduce leadership effectiveness.

W – Waken to a New State of Consciousness.

Determine your leadership patterns with fresh eyes, newfound self-awareness, and openness to professional development. Assess how these patterns are working for or against you in light of the organization’s and your goals.

A – Adopt a Growth Mindset.

Be open to developing new leadership skills. A growth mindset means that 2+2=5 because you are open to making an uncomfortable shift that yields higher results. Surround yourself with talent that inspires and brings out your best – those who will motivate you to be your best, not “yes” people who acquiesce rather than dare to tell the truth courageously and compassionately for your good and the good of the team/organization. Identify specific ways to stretch and build your capabilities as a leader.

R – Refocus with Purpose and Strategy.

Plan to succeed. Determine the leadership behaviors you want to change – what will you do more, better, or differently? Consider when to use a personality trait advantageous for the situation and when it’s best to leave it on the sidelines. That is the wisdom of having heightened self-awareness, creating the path to even more effective leadership.

E – Embrace and Empower Change.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

– Aristotle

As Nike says, “Just Do It.”

Execute intentionally with persistence while remaining agile. Be the change you want to see as you become more self-aware daily.

You don’t have to go it alone. Contact me for a complimentary consultation.

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport

Facebook   LinkedIn

Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and leadership strategist. Her signature program, M3 LeadershipSM, prepares you to enhance and develop your self-awareness, embrace your inner strength, and lead with confidence, courage, and impact.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.