Cultivating Self-Awareness as a Leader: The Key Contributor of Leadership Effectiveness

Did you know that 95 % of people think they are and only 10-15% are actually self aware?

At Intentionaleaders, we advocate for the pivotal role of self-awareness in leadership development and personal growth. It serves as the cornerstone of our coaching approach, guiding our exploration of mindset shifts with clients. While many individuals possess surface-level awareness of their personality traits—such as introversion, extroversion, or their interpersonal skills—a deeper examination reveals that our habits, behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs are all influenced by the subconscious mind. This realm, shaped by past experiences, fears, and traumas, governs our actions in ways we may not fully recognize. Understanding the motivations behind our behavior grants us the power to reevaluate and reshape our approach to various aspects of life. As Steven Covey, author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," famously remarked, "Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our  thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies”

Examining the way we show up allows us to decide if it's working or not. For example, does your team experience a relaxed, trusting work environment? Or is the workplace riddled with stress, chaos or drama ? The root cause of a challenging work environment leads us back to the leaders and self-awareness or lack thereof.

“Once we are self-aware, we must choose purposes and principles to live by; otherwise the vacuum will be filled, and we will lose our self-awareness and become like groveling animals who live primarily for survival and propagation. People who exist on that level aren't living; they are "being lived". - Steven Covey

So how do we become more self-aware? Where do we even begin?


Here are 5 Steps to Developing More Self-awareness:

To lead effectively, we must first understand ourselves. Our minds are complex machines filled with triggers, tendencies, core beliefs, feelings, and needs. These elements shape our decisions, actions, and interactions, often without conscious awareness. Self-awareness requires peeling back these layers, shining a light on the inner workings of our psyche.


  1. Journaling:

Journaling serves as a mirror for the soul, reflecting our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. By putting pen to paper, we externalize our inner dialogue, gaining clarity and insight into our deepest desires and fears. Regular journaling cultivates self-awareness by fostering introspection and self-reflection, helping us uncover patterns and gain perspective on our journey as leaders.


  1. Mindfulness: 

In the chaos of leadership, mindfulness serves as an anchor, grounding us in the present moment. By cultivating awareness of our thoughts, sensations, and emotions without judgment, we develop a deeper understanding of ourselves. Mindfulness practices such as meditation, body scans, and mindful walking enhance our ability to observe our inner landscape, fostering clarity and insight which reduces fear, stress and anxiety.


  1. Breathwork: 

Our breath is a potent tool for self-awareness, serving as a bridge between body and mind. Conscious breathing practices such as deep diaphragmatic breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and breath awareness cultivate presence and relaxation. By tuning into our breath, we quiet the mind, regulate our nervous system, and deepen our connection to ourselves. Breath work empowers us to navigate challenges with grace and composure, fostering emotional resilience and self-awareness.


  1. Stress and Emotional Regulation: 

As leaders, we encounter a myriad of stressors that can trigger emotional responses. Self-awareness allows us to recognize these triggers, understand their underlying causes, and respond with intention rather than react impulsively. Practices such as identifying feelings and needs empower us to regulate our emotions effectively. By cultivating emotional intelligence, we create space for growth and transformation, both personally and professionally.


  1. Identifying Feelings, Needs, and Beliefs:

At the heart of self-awareness lies the ability to identify and honor our feelings, needs, and beliefs. By tuning into our emotional landscape, we gain insight into our authentic selves, guiding us toward alignment with our values and purpose. Through practices such as assertive communication, inner dialogue, and self-inquiry, we deepen our understanding of ourselves and others. By embracing vulnerability and self-compassion, we foster meaningful connections and lead with authenticity and integrity.



In the tapestry of leadership, self-awareness serves as the golden thread, weaving together authenticity, empathy, and resilience. By delving beneath the surface of our mindset, we uncover the keys to unlocking our full potential as leaders. Through practices such as journaling, mindfulness, breathwork, emotional regulation, and self-inquiry, we cultivate the self-awareness necessary to navigate the complexities of leadership with grace and purpose. As we embark on this journey of self-discovery, may we embrace the power of self-awareness to illuminate the path ahead, leading with clarity, compassion, and authenticity.