The 5 Things You Must Embrace to Become a More Self-Aware Leader

At Columbia University, Prof. Hitendra Wadhwa teaches future leaders that companies should value the whole person, not just the business employee.

He believes self-regulation can achieve what market regulation cannot — great business leadership.

Wadhwa claims our inner life matters significantly in business. Crystallizing mind-sets into missions, articulating purpose into goals, and pursuing them according to consciously explored values not only infuses executives with authenticity, but can make innovation and economic growth instruments of good for society.

Our experiences, values, emotions, and beliefs all act to shape how we think and act across all circumstances, and we can’t separate our inner-self from our business-self and expect to function in a healthy way.

To help us on our journey, Wadhwa offers five pillars of leadership we should strive to embrace in order to achieve a more holistic and fulfilling life.

1. Purpose

Great leaders have a hunger for defining their purpose, which in many cases evolves significantly over time. They know who they are, what they want, and they are guided by a strong sense of their own values.

They aren’t held back by their ego and have a willingness to do whatever it takes to make an impact, even if it means relinquishing power.

2. Wisdom

Wisdom requires harnessing emotions, thoughts, and beliefs so at critical moments, emotions don’t hijack the more rational centers of the brain.

When faced with tough decisions, we need to be able to pull ourselves into and away from our emotions and thoughts to have clarity. When it comes to mindset, we have all formed views of the world that are shaped by our limited experiences.

The challenge for leaders is being aware of how these limitations influence the way we make decisions.

3. Self-awareness

In order to truly harness our purpose and wisdom, we have to be mindful.

It’s important to be able to experience tranquility and peace, particularly in times of turbulence. Making sound decisions requires extracting oneself from both internal and external distractions to focus our attention on what matters most.

4. Love

Love (in this context) is an expansion of the sense of self that enables leaders to share in the joys of others. Finding happiness in the accomplishments of others encourages leaders to develop their people to make them more successful.

Self-aware leaders have this desire to win through others and genuinely take joy in their employees’ achievements — thinking and acting like coaches to help their teams be the very best they can be.

5. Growth

One of the core aspects of leadership is the capacity to be ever-renewing.

Article Continues Below

Sponsored Content

Outperform your competition with a certification from HRCI®

Whether you want to demonstrate HR skills, prove expertise in advanced operations, best practices and regulations, or make that next step into that executive office, HRCI will help to get you there. HRCI certification is a fast track to success.

It involves moving toward the ideal self everyone harbors, but which is often sacrificed as businesses leaders are swept along by the endless stream of pressure from without. And it encourages leaders to course-correct failure as a stepping-stone toward learning and success.

Most great leaders have had monumental failures, but they have persevered. This ability to rebound stems from their willingness to learn and adjust — they view failure as opportunity and always seek to better themselves and their circumstances.

What helps you be a better leader?

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

Michelle M. Smith

A highly accomplished international speaker, strategist, and author on performance improvement; Michelle is a respected authority on leadership, workplace culture, employee engagement and talent. She’s published and presented more than 1,100 articles and lectures and is a trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful organizations and governments.

Named as one of the Ten Best and Brightest Women in the incentive industry, a Change Maker, Top Idea Maven, and President’s Award winner, Michelle is a highly accomplished industry leader who has worked in every facet of recognition and incentives, both domestically and internationally.

She has appeared on Fox Television and the BBC, and been featured in magazines like Fortune, Business Week, Inc., and Return on Performance; as well as national radio programs, and contributions to the books “Bull Market” by Seth Godin, “Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk,” and “Social Media Isn’t Social.”

Michelle is President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association and Past President of the FORUM for People Performance at Northwestern University. She’s Vice President, Research for the Business Marketing Association and serves on the Boards of the Incentive Federation and the Incentive & Engagement Solutions Council. She was also the Founder and Chair of the Editorial Board of Return on Performance Magazine.