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Be a Self-Aware Leader

Be a Self-Aware Leader

What's your emotional intelligence (EQ)?

Alexandra Levit

Self-awareness, which may be defined as being conscious of what you’re good at while acknowledging what you still need to learn, is one of the most underrated leadership skills. Apparently, it’s also one of the most rare. According to the Change Style Indicator, a research study on management styles that has been conducted for two decades, leaders are more likely to be unaware of how their behavior impacts others. Also, in appearing as if they know everything all of the time and disguising their mistakes and weaknesses, they diminish their credibility with colleagues and reports.

In organizational psychology research, self-awareness is often incorporated under the broader umbrella of emotional intelligence, or EQ. Here are brief descriptions of the main components of EQ.

Components of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Emotional Awareness: You understand the emotions you’re feeling and how those emotions affect your behavior and performance.

Accurate Self-Assessment: You are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, you’re open to feedback, and you learn from experience.

Self-Confidence: You present yourself with poise and are not afraid to voice unpopular viewpoints.

Self-Control: You don’t act on impulse but instead remain composed and focused under pressure.

Innovation and Adaptability: You uncover fresh ideas to problems. You are flexible and handle change well.

Achievement Drive: You constantly seek ways to improve results and hold yourself accountable for strong performance. You persist in your goal despite setbacks.

Commitment and Initiative: You understand the organization’s core purpose and will make sacrifices in service of that. You are able to mobilize others and go above and beyond what’s expected of you.

Understanding and Developing Others: You listen well and show sensitivity to others’ points of view. You reward people’s strengths and encourage their improvement through specific feedback and strong mentoring.

Team Building: You create like-minded groups, model team qualities like respect and helpfulness, and share credit.

Political Awareness: You are aware of important formal and informal relationships, who’s friends with who, and how things actually get done in the organization.

Influence: You are skilled at gaining consensus and drumming up support for your projects. You challenge the status quo and enlist others to help implement relevant changes.

Communication: You are able to read between the lines when conversing with others, you speak in a straight-forward manner, and you seek mutual understanding.

Collaboration and Cooperation: You share information and resources and balance your focus on a task with attention to relationships.

Conflict Management: You address problematic situations proactively, bringing them to light with tact and diplomacy. You encourage open discussion and help to orchestrate mutually beneficial solutions.

It may sound like there is a lot involved in being emotionally intelligent, but truthfully a lot of these components go together, meaning that if you’re strong in one, you’ll naturally be strong in the others. For instance, people who are strong in leadership are often equally adept in inducing change, gaining cooperation, building teams, and resolving conflicts. Therefore, in addition to honing each component, you can employ several strategies that will help you improve your overall EQ.

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Featured Author: Alexandra Levit
A current columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Metro US, Alexandra has authored several books, including the popular They Don’t Teach Corporate in College (Career Press 2004 and 2009), How’d You Score That Gig? (Random House/Ballantine, 2008), Success for Hire (ASTD Press, 2008), MillennialTweet (SuperStar, 2009), and New Job, New You (Random House/Ballantine, 2010). Her book on the top myths of business success is due out from Penguin/Berkley in spring 2011. Alexandra is also a global spokesperson for Microsoft’s program for new hires and has recently been called upon to speak to executives and managers about how to most strategically leverage the talent of the Millennial generation. Please learn more at

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