Leader Self-Awareness: What it is and why it matters

Amy Elizabeth Fox the co-Founder and CEO of Mobius Executive Leadership shares her perspectives on leader self-awareness: what it is, why it matters and how to develop it.

As suggested by Erica Ariel Fox (author: Winning from Within), self-awareness includes 2 parts:

State awareness:

  • Being able to witness and recognize your own emotional state (the work of Ronald Heifetz refers to this as being on the balcony)
  • Difficult situations can trigger reactive fight or flight mindset which will constrain your thinking and limit your ability to make decisions
  • This awareness helps you manage these difficult situations

Profile awareness:

  • This is about understanding your leadership style and strengths and knowing what is needed in one moment to then next
  • Many leaders have strong intellectual ability (thinker warrior) but less developed in intuition, forward thinking or emotions
  • Teams respond well to leaders showing vulnerability (admitting they are working on their leadership) – it increases trust and improves the team’s ability to work together

4 benefits of investing in self-awareness:

  1. Cognitive flexibility:
    • Mature leaders are much better able to include ideas from different perspectives – this makes them more future ready (e.g., not stuck in their own point of view and more open to innovation)
    • When leaders are learners there is much more psychological safety, collaboration and productive conflict
  2. Emotional intimacy:
    • Now that people are working out of their living rooms teams are becoming closer and sharing details of families and personal lives.
    • Leaders who can create deeper conversations around purpose, mission, and values will create a stronger sense of trust and engagement with their teams.
  3. Adaptability:
    • People can only tolerate a certain amount of change and therefore building team’s tolerance of disequilibrium is an important task for leaders.
    • Leaders who have practices for getting grounded will be better able to meet upcoming challenges.
    • Come up with a tactic outside to workplace to ground yourself (meditation, walk in nature).
  4. Well being:
    • Leaders who take care of themselves create better vitality and hopefulness that will give fuel to deal with stressors going forward (mental health, relational health and physical wellbeing).

Practical ways to build self-awareness:

  • Read the book “Lead From Within” by Erica Ariel Fox
  • Write down your life story and reflect: What have been your big events? Who have been your mentors? Where has there been limiting beliefs/behaviours? Use this reflection as a guide for future behaviour
  • Build a kitchen cabinet of people that can help you along the way: give you constructive feedback and celebrate with you

Amy’s hope for leaders: See themselves as a source of orientation.

  • Stay close to your own sources of joy
    • Simple acts of generosity go a long way – remember someone’s birthday, ask about family member etc
    • Lead from anywhere in the organization

More about Amy Fox:

Amy is a senior practitioner in transformational leadership. She leads immersive development for senior leaders in both the private and public sector. She is also the co-founder and CEO of Mobius Executive Leadership – a premier coaching, culture change and leadership development firm headquartered in both Boston and Geneva.  Mobius is comprised of a prestigious group of Senior Experts and over 200 coaches, mediators, facilitators and expressive artists. Amy is a psychotherapist by background with expertise working with family and collective trauma.

More about TILTCO:

TILTCO is a boutique consulting company that helps leaders define and execute their strategies in order to achieve extraordinary business and personal results. Founded by Tineke Keesmaat who has over 20 years of leadership consulting experience with McKinsey & Company, Accenture and now TILTCO Inc.

Notable quote:

“Mature leaders are much more able to understand the full complexity of a picture and therefore more future ready and have a stronger innovation capacity”

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