Self-Awareness as Leadership

You are here


Self-knowledge is key to being a good leader.

This means having an accurate understanding of your values and motivations, your natural strengths, your effect on others and your opportunities for improvement. A high level of self-awareness enables you to build deeper relationships with others and more effectively bring out the best in your team.

It is also important to have similar knowledge about the individuals on your team. Do you really understand their strengths and motivations? Do you ever wonder why sometimes your team is clicking, while other times working together seems frustrating?

Our team recently did a Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) exercise led by one of our wonderful knowledge philanthropists, Martha Sales. The SDI tool builds self-knowledge by allowing people to identify their strengths and motivations when things are going well, as well as when they are facing conflict. Understanding the motivational values of each person on the team, and how this motivation drives their behavior, can reduce a lot of conflict and frustration, and ultimately allow teams to be more effective.

By being aware of our own motivations, each of us can choose to manage our strengths and be more adaptive to situations of stress and conflict. Personally, it’s important for me to be aware of how my “red” desire for quick decisions and taking action can affect my team.  While I feel good when things are moving quickly, others may be uncomfortable if they value having everyone’s voice heard (blue), or need to gather more information before making a decision (green).

Here’s another example: I might come into the office and see everyone heads down, hard at work. Good, I think, everyone is focused and getting the job done. Because my own strength is driving things forward and taking action, I am happy to see everyone so focused.

However, by not understanding my team’s motivations, my assumption that everyone is fine might be mistaken. Depending on the individual and how they are impacted by pressure, they could instead be feeling paralyzed by a lack of data and waiting for someone else to make a decision – instead of happily working away at their desk. It could be that the team is actually experiencing conflict and their progress is stalled.

The more you can recognize and value your and your team’s individual strengths and motives, the more empowered everyone will be to choose their own behavior and better adapt to a situation of conflict. Ultimately, that means you will be more effective as a leader in moving everyone toward the vision and goals of the organization.
Find more information on the SDI here or contact Martha Sales directly.

About the Author

As Vantage Point's Executive Director, Denise is responsible for leading and executing Vantage Point’s mission to totally transform the not-for-profit sector through building leadership capability. She has a significant record of achievement in the areas of Strategic Planning, Team Development...

t: 604 875 9144
f: 604 875 0710
1183 Melville Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 2X5


Donate to Vantage Point and transform the leadership competencies of British Columbia not-for-profit executive directors, board members, staff and volunteers

Facebook icon.Twitter icon. Twitter icon. Youtube icon.