Strong Leadership Skills Begin with Becoming More Self-aware

As a leader you must understand the people you are leading.  To understand others you must first understand yourself.  Last month my list was 10 questions to ask yourself to become more self-aware.  The list was designed to ask questions on the positive side of who you are.  Now let’s delve in a little deeper. Here are 10 questions to help you become more aware of why you may be not happy at work or life.

  1. What do you want more of in your work and your life right now? Other parts of your life ( not just work) influence your work so look at both aspects.  Are there pieces of your work that you enjoy but don’t get to do very often?  What about your home life, volunteer life, or other part of your non-work life?
  2. What is bothering you right now? Here is the place that for years I just ignored and moved on.  Sometimes what is bothering you is simple.  Other times it is just helpful to know what it is and perhaps why it bothers you. Here’s one example from my work-life.  For a couple of months in my early work years I had a co-worker next to me who talked on his speaker phone continually.  In fact, he never used the handset.  I ignored it until someone else told him to use the handset because he was loud and it was difficult for everyone else to concentrate.  Only after he stopped using the speaker phone did I realize how annoying it was.  I was grateful to the person who spoke to him.
  3. What advice would you give to your younger self? This is an interesting question since it shows what you have learned.  The follow up to that question would be: Do you follow the advice now yourself?  More than learning what you “should” do it is important to make the “should” into a want to do.  If I look at the previous example my advice might be to myself to speak up when something affects the way I do my work.  The answer to whether I actually do speak up now is that sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t so the lesson is learned but not cemented.  I’m working on it!  (I’m going for awareness here! ?)
  4. If you had all the time in the world, what would you do first? This is a question about where you really want to spend time and perhaps what is the highest priority.  Maybe it isn’t about highest priority but just what do you enjoy spending time on?
  5. What is draining your energy and how can you reduce or eliminate it? Often when things drain us of energy we just ignore or tolerate them.  Every time I drove my car into my garage (once or twice every day) I saw peeling and cracking paint. I noticed I got depressed and impatient whenever I drove into the garage.  Once I became aware it was bothering me I got a painter to paint that side of the house.  That solved the problem and I drove into the garage feeling happy again.
  6. Where does your pain come from? What must happen for you to heal?  We suffer from both physical and emotional pain.  Look for the source of the pain (where do you feel it?) and then find a way for you to heal the pain.
  7. What is something you’ve always wanted to do but were too scared? Identify what it is that scares you.  What is your fear about?
  8. How can you take better care of yourself?  I’ve had periods of time when I was so focused on my work that I barely had time for anything else.  I only broke away to eat and sleep.  It took its toll and I found myself exhausted and making poor choices both at work and at home.  Taking good care of yourself means getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night, eating healthy meals, and taking time off to relax and enjoy life a bit.  I was lucky because I realized I was exhausted. I knew I needed to take time off and I did take a vacation.  Those that don’t get the message from their body often get a message from the universe to slow down either by getting sick or having an accident.
  9. When have you done something that you thought you couldn’t do? This is a good question to think about. After some thought I remembered that when I was in my 40s that I thought I could never learn to ski.  In fact, for several years when my family skied I sat in the lodge.  Finally, I got bored doing that and took some lessons.  To my surprise I learned and liked it!
  10. What would you like my legacy to be? I often ask clients to write their own eulogy.  What do you want to be remembered for?  Having a vision of your life and work makes decision making easier.

Take the first step toward becoming a leader

Interested in taking that first step in becoming a leader?  Having a coach can help.  Exploring the answers to these questions and the ones on the September list with a coach will help you to dig in deeper to find your specific answers.  As I said in the list sometimes these questions are difficult to answer.  A coach will ask you other questions to help you develop your answers.  A coach also has tools and assessments that help you to uncover your truths.  If you would like to discuss coaching with me, email me at or call me at 781-598-0388


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