Self Awareness

“The single most important piece of information a leader possesses is self awareness.”1 Similarly, other cultures echo this bold statement.  China’s influential book Tao Te Ching asserts that “Those who understand others are intelligent those who understand themselves are enlightened.”2 This type of knowledge is a non-negotiable asset for leaders.  By defining self-awareness, illustrating how leaders can gain self-awareness and presenting the negative results of a leader’s underdeveloped self, one will discover why self-awareness is the most pressing leadership issue today.

Self-awareness is defined as a realization of oneself as an individual entity or personality.3 Understanding Leaders need to dig deep wells of self-exploration to understand themselves and operate with competence.  Additionally, Gallup Inc. studied the best leaders and noted that “Top achievers fully recognize their talents and build on them to develop strengths.”4  This type of development is imperative, time consuming, but it is time well spent.

            It is easy to identify a book definition; it is another thing to modify one’s behavior.  One way a person can gain self-awareness is by following Jesus’ own example of practicing solitude as a spiritual discipline.  Immediately after Jesus was baptized, He was led to the wilderness for forty days of fasting, prayer and solitude. In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by the devil, who questioned His identity even though the Father publicly affirmed Him as “Son” just a few days earlier.  While in solitude, Jesus grew in self-awareness, resisted the urge to flex His leadership muscles foolishly when attacked and emerged with a clear, messianic, Spirit-empowered message found in Luke 4:18-19.  In this experience Jesus not only gained self-awareness, He gained clarity for His mission.

On the other hand, a leader who lacks self-awareness can be his/her own worst enemy.5 An underdeveloped leader can turn toxic for fear of undue attention placed on other talented leaders instead of him/her.  These types of insecure leaders may appear authentic; however, they are nothing more than barnacles on someone else’s boat of creativity, drive and vision, because they did not take the time to dig the deep wells of self-awareness.  Ultimately, these leaders implode slowly because they are blinded by their own unbridled, poisonous motivations and simply run out of borrowed ideas.

Finally, leaders who identify their strengths and weaknesses can lead organizations free of ego and unchecked impulses.  A leader who knows himself/herself, is not intimidated by talented personnel, is complimentary toward others, and leads with clarity. Ultimately, self-aware leaders are free to lead their organizations with uniqueness and authenticity. For these reasons, self-awareness is the most pressing leadership issue of today.

How can we help you lean into self-awareness? At Leadership Thresholds, we have deep processing methods that help you see the big picture of God’s shaping in your life. In Leadership Discovery we look back, look up, look ahead, and look within to understand God’s shaping. 

We are available for Sunday’s, Wednesday’s, special services, and leadership events. We would love to come alongside to encourage God’s shaping in your life. 

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1 Reggie McNeal, Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders.

2 Derek Lin, “Tao Te Ching Annotated & Explained,” Tao Classic Web site, Chapter 33.

 3 Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary, “Self-Awareness,”

4 Donald Clifton, StrengthsQuest: Discover and Develop your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond.

5 McNeal, 11.

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