Become a Stronger Leader Through Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness

Becoming a stronger leader does not happen overnight. It is a continual process that includes developing the essential skills to improve your Emotional Intelligence (EI). This is Part 1 of our series: Become a Stronger Leader Through Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness.

One of the foundational principles of EI includes emotional self-awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence.  Leaders who are aware of their internal responses and are self-confident are in a better position to understand others and to succeed.  Do you know your triggers and predispositions?  The more self-aware you become, the better leader you can be.

Emotional Self-Awareness

A good leader is one who knows her strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness builds on other aspects of emotional intelligence to understand where you shine and where you might need to do some polishing. In today's competitive environment, making time for self-reflection will help you stand out from the crowd.

Leaders who are aware of  triggers and expectations are better able to tweak their managing style for a positive outcome. For example, self-reflection and mindfulness can help if a manager needs to manage frustration in meetings.  Developing a robust emotional vocabulary also helps to pinpoint and articulate specific, nuanced feelings.

Accurate self-assessment

Self-assessment can simply include journaling or quiet reflection, i.e., any specific time set aside to understand your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness practice can also be useful, as well as asking others what they think are your strengths. Readily available personality assessments such as Meyers-Briggs and StrengthsFinder 2.0 can help guide you toward identifying your main strengths. Recording meetings or phone calls (with permission, of course) and playing them back later can help a leader to identify specific trouble areas and plan more effective responses in future situations. Working with a team member or a coach on these areas can also be extremely useful.


Shadow coaching is an excellent way to build confidence in leadership skills. A coach will observe the group dynamic in the work environment, with special attention paid to the leader of the group. Immediate feedback encourages the best behaviors while creating the opportunity to improve on less desirable actions.

Unlike your Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, EQ can be learned through a particular set of competencies, skills, and qualities. Ready to increase your EI?

What are some ways that have helped you increase your self-awareness?