How to Use Self-Awareness as A Competitive Advantage

I’ve said many times that self-awareness should not be seen as a “nice-to-have” but as a critical leadership competency. 

Without placing enough emphasis on being self-aware, many leaders and organizations face a multitude of disruptions in communication, work performance, efficiency, employee engagement, and the list goes on.

Why is self-awareness so critical a skill for leaders? 

For starters, self-awareness can help you:

  • develop healthier relationships
  • improve your level of personal effectiveness
  • give you a daily fresh perspective on your actions, mindset, and behaviors
  • and most importantly, it can help you gain deep insights into your people so you can work as effectively as possible alongside them

But how can self-awareness give you a competitive edge?

Building and Deepending Your Self-Awareness Skills

Self-awareness is more than just an ambiguous touchy-feely concept. 

The business world is characterized by constant movement and change, particularly now, and self-aware leaders are more likely to be focused on the moment, which is a boon to their organizations. However, the unfortunate fact is that many leaders are not self-aware, which can cause friction among those they work with, leading to lower levels of employee engagement.

The reality is the lack of self-awareness can also be tied to a company’s bottom line and here is why: Those who don’t subscribe to self-awareness will have challenges leading others effectively and driving the desired results for their business. 

Conversely, those who maintain a healthy sense of self-awareness will translate their leadership into healthy outcomes for their team and in turn their entire organization.

This is what encapsulates a competitive advantage.

Leading Through Organizational Highs and Lows

Often when individuals rise to the role of leader, they may feel isolated, and require some guidance and support. When there is none, it is a lot harder to figure things out on your own and we learn the hard way which can be detrimental to both your success and the companies. 

For example, when a leader who leads with ego hits a peak as things are going particularly well, they can easily lose sight of themselves and make decisions that are not conducive to the success of their organization. They may also start to believe that they can do no wrong, or that they do not need to question their own methods. Inevitably, they let their egos take over, further diminishing their self-awareness. As a result, their people will disengage, and organizations tend to experience diminishing returns.

Others may go in the opposite direction, losing confidence if the organization experiences market losses. Their insecurities can rise to the surface, compounding and exacerbating the downturns their organizations may have taken.

All organization experience highs and lows, but those leaders who are buoyed by self-awareness can still thrive – and by extension – their people, despite these circumstances.

Playing a Humble Game Wins in the Long Run

Self-aware leaders can effectively gauge the impact of their own contributions to success while recognizing the value others bring to the table. 

Operating from humility instead of superiority is one of the hallmarks of self-aware leadership and it brings some serious benefits:

  • A more engaged and enthusiastic workforce
  • More meaningful connections with individual team members
  • Increased clarity around decision making and judgment
  • A stronger sense of empathy

All the above are essential to today’s workplace, regardless of physical location. 

Humble – not “weak” leaders, keep themselves grounded. Humility gives them the ability to see the landscape exactly as it is. When you see the world this way, you give yourself a unique edge over your competitors.

Learning to Drop Automatic Defenses

As I wrote in my last blog, it’s easy for some leaders to go through their days operating on auto-pilot, which can be a recipe for disaster.

In this context, they do not notice their own defensive reactions to feedback and criticism. Instead, they may go on the attack or react in the opposite manner by disappearing and becoming reclusive, which may seem excessive, but I have witnessed this in some organizations. 

However, leaders who approach criticism and feedback with self-awareness can create a competitive advantage because they are willing to be flexible around how they adapt, change and lead. 

Are You Developing Your Self-Awareness Advantage?

Every leader can benefit from training or coaching to improve self-awareness at any stage of their career. 

I can offer you strategic and actionable ways to build your competitive edge.

Please reach out to me via email at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca or by phone at 1-855-871-3374.

Ready to partner with LeadersEdge to drive organizational performance?

connect with us