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Self-Awareness | Leadership

As leaders, self-awareness and ethical responsibility must be at the core of our character. Our choices and actions have a profound impact that ripples out, affecting not just ourselves but all those we lead and influence. Character is the bedrock of leadership.

Character means having self-discipline, emotional security, core values, and a firm sense of identity. Like an iceberg, there are visible parts of our character that others see through our conduct. But there are also huge invisible parts under the surface - our innermost thoughts, feelings, and drivers that shape our outward influence. We must be conscious of both aspects.

Self-awareness is critical for leaders. We need to understand our own emotions, thought patterns, values and how they manifest in our behaviors. Emotional security means we stay steady and are not easily rocked by negative provocations or outbursts. Ethical responsibility means we choose the moral high road, adhering to standards even when facing pressure to compromise.

While character provides the crucial inner foundation for leaders, we also need strong connections and mutual. Effective leadership isn't a solo endeavor, leaders require support and resilience from our family, friends, and team. We are interdependent - our actions impact others, and we draw strength from those around us.

Help us build the WWTO Leadership community by responding to any of these questions in the comments below.

  • What virtues or character traits do you feel are most essential for a leader to embody in order to build trust and set a positive example for their team?

  • Effective team building requires leaders to be self-aware of how their own character traits, values and emotional tendencies impact the group dynamic. Can you share an experience where you had to critically examine your own character strengths/weaknesses in order to better unite and motivate your team?

  • How do you think the virtues of humility, integrity and service should guide a leader's identity and actions, especially when facing difficult ethical choices?

  • What practices have you found useful for cultivating emotional resilience and regulating your state when faced with stressful leadership situations?

  • A core tenet of ethical leadership is service - putting the needs of others above self-interest. How can leaders embed a mentality of humble service more deeply within their teams and organizational cultures? What are examples of leaders truly leading through service?

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Effective team building will not happen if there is not a certain level of trust in the leader or team members. The adage "trust is earned, not given" comes into play when working with others. It takes time and consistent positive interactions between the leader and team members to establish trust.


I recently had a successful leader tell me that leadership is about advocacy. I took that to mean that a leader is aware of the skills, interests, and aptitudes of their team and seeks opportunities to push their team forward. As it relates to our lesson today, I think self-awareness and emotional steadiness allow leaders to advocate because it frees them up to pay attention to others instead of focusing on themselves.

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