Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Why self-awareness is the most important element of emotional intelligence

ManagementWhy self-awareness is the most important element of emotional intelligence

We all have heard the story that how an extremely intelligent and skilled person failed after he was promoted to a leadership position. And, how a mediocre employee shined after he was promoted to a similar role. These stories reinforce our beliefs that finding an individual with the right traits is an art.

The style of leadership can be different. Analysing the leaders who have been successful and influential in the past we get to know that some are subdued and analytical, while others are bold and extroverted. However, everyone has one thing in common and that is high emotional intelligence. This does not mean that the core skills are irrelevant, they are important. Both of these go hand-in-hand.

But how do we recognize these traits? Among all these traits, self-awareness is the most coveted skill which is very rare to find.


Self-awareness is the most important element of emotional intelligence. It means knowing your emotions, strengths, weaknesses and drives. What makes self-aware individuals powerful is their ability to have a balance. They don’t over criticize themselves. They don’t set unrealistic hopes. Staying aware of their feelings, they are able to analyse how their emotions are affecting others or their performance.

Someone who is self-aware and knows that working close to the deadline will bring the worst out of him will always work in advance to get the job done early. Another employee who does taxing work will be aware of the impact the work is having on her life if she is highly self-aware.

Moreover, one who is self-aware will also have a better understanding of his aims and values. He will turn down a job offer if it does not go well with his long-term goals, even if it is a high-paying job. We all have a friend who is stuck in a bad job. He only signed it because the money looked tempting but now, 3 years into the job he realises the work is tedious.

Developing high-self-awareness requires honesty and realistic assessment. After developing self-awareness, one can speak openly and honestly about their feelings and their impact on the work.

Recognizing self-awareness

If you want to test self-awareness of a candidate in the interview, ask her when was the time when she got carried away and did something stupid. If the person answers honestly, this shows that she is confident and she can recognize her feelings.

Another way to recognize self-aware employees is by observing their behaviour during performance reviews. A person who is highly self-aware will be comfortable talking about his weaknesses and they will show an eagerness to learn about their limitations. On the other hand, people who are not self-aware take constructive criticism as a threat or failure.

Someone who is self-aware will never take a challenge which is he knows he can’t win. He will always utilize his strengths.

A junior or mid-level employee who has high levels of self-awareness will not get intimidated if he sits in a meeting with top-level executives. Although she is a junior, she did not sit there in complete silence because she knew she can present great ideas confidently and persuasively. She was aware of her skill.

On other hand, a self-aware person who has interpersonal shortcomings will allow his team member to present the idea because he knows that she can present it better. While he works on his interpersonal shortcomings, he knew that his team member could present the idea in a better way.

Self-aware people are aware of their weaknesses and shortcoming. Exploiting their strengths, they work on their weaknesses, so these don’t come in their way of success.

Many executives and CEOs don’t value employees who are self-aware. The truth is that no one is perfect. We all are humans and we have a bunch of strengths and weaknesses. But still, when someone tells us their weaknesses, instead of appreciating that individual for being self-aware, most of us start seeing them as meek.

Ask yourself, who is smarter, a person who is aware of all of her weaknesses or someone who does not know what her weaknesses are. Self-awareness can help you and your employees succeed. To develop self-awareness skills, you first need to assess yourself. You can hire a business advisory solution firm to help you assess with your emotional intelligence skills.

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