Become an Authentic Leader: Be Self-Aware

Key Takeaways

  • Being aware of your strengths, weaknesses and values
  • Keeping an open mind when it comes to feedback from others
  • Continuing to adjust your behavior

If you are struggling on which leadership style to adopt for your new leadership position, research tells us that being an authentic leader can greatly help to gain followers’ trust and be rated as highly effective.

Our past blog posts and research white papers have illustrated the importance of leaders’ self-awareness (check out our past posts linked at the end of this article). Today, I want to introduce you to some useful strategies to enhance your self-awareness.

The first step to achieving self-awareness is to know yourself.

Having a better understanding of yourself can help you create more relevant and motivating career/life goals. It is the foundation of all self-improvement efforts. Directly seeking sincere feedback from others or applying a valid 360 feedback tool can greatly help you gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses — the likes of which you may never realize.

Select a tool that is validated and tested by behavioral or personnel psychologists, which can offer data on its reliability and validity, which is also very important. You want to make sure what the instrument told you is accurate and indeed helpful.

When seeking feedback from others, try to keep an open mind. Even though you may not like some of the criticism you hear, it can be important information when it comes to identifying your areas for improvement.

Clarifying your values is another important step at enhancing your self-awareness. Our values guide our decisions and actions all the time, even though we may or may not notice them. Meanwhile, knowing your values and making choices and decisions in accordance with these values can greatly reduce stress (caused by cognitive dissonance) and improve your mental well-being (due to greater value fit).

Research reveals that people who find their organizations’ values fit their own have shown stronger levels of organizational commitment, work engagement and job satisfaction. They are also less likely to suffer from psychological burnout and less likely to leave the company.

On the other hand, leaders who clearly know their values and can communicate them to their subordinates tend to lead a more effective workgroup and have better relationships with their followers.1,2 Values can be best clarified via a daily reflection exercise. Give yourself some time to think about you treasure the most and what your guiding principles truly are; these can greatly help you understand what your most cherished values are.

Last but not least, truly self-aware leaders can continue to adjust their behaviors based on their self-assessment and feedback from the others. Without the element of self-adjustment, a leader cannot be seen as being self-aware.

In my next blog, let’s continue our discussion on strategies of becoming an authentic leader — this time, we’ll examine building your character strength.


  1. Hoffman, B. J., Bynum, B. H., Piccolo, R. F., & Sutton, A. W. (2011). Person-organization value congruence: How transformational leaders influence work group effectiveness. Academy of Management Journal54, 779-796.
  2. Erdogan, B., Kraimer, M. L., & Liden, R. C. (2004). Work value congruence and intrinsic career success: The compensatory roles of leader‐member exchange and perceived organizational support. Personnel psychology57, 305-332.

Also see:

  1. Be a Self-Aware Leader
  2. On Leader Self-Awareness
  3. BUILD Assessment

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September 4, 2021 at 9:07 am
Michelle LaRowe

Thank you for this helpful article. I especially liked learning about how making sure your organization's values align with your own is so important


Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.