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Health and work-life balance disorders - Self-leadership and self-awareness

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Learning Outcomes

Objectives and goalsClick to read  

At the end of this module you will be able to:

Explain the concepts of self-awareness and self-leadership
Discuss the gains from growing self-leadership and self-awareness in business and in crises
Provide guidance on self-leadership and self-awareness development practices

Self leadership and self awareness

The importance of knowing inner youClick to read  

Rapid business environment strikes at the foundations of our personal and professional life

Self-awareness and self-leadership

• Gaining importance in recent management debates and literature
• Knowing inner you as a way to combat anxiety, stress and depression
• Leads to higher job satisfaction, personal control, happiness and growth
• Helps taking others’ perspectives

What is (not) self-awareness and self-leadershipClick to read  

Becoming self-leader by being self-aware

• Improving decision-making
• Helping you assess weaknesses and strengths
• Helping anticipate emotional reactions
• Better controlling actions/behaviours
• Reaching your goals more effectively



Self-awareness can be

• Internal – getting to know own values, passions and aspirations
• External – understanding what kind of impression we make on other people







Source: Harward Business Review, Dr. Tasha Eurich, 2018


Cultivating self-awarenessClick to read  

• Envision yourself

- Visualize the best version of yourself

• Self-reflect

- Ask “What” instead of “Why” question

• Approach problem rationally 

- Try to analyse the problem instead of being rushed by emotions

Make notes

- In order to recognise beneficial and harmful patterns

Practice mindfulness

- To relate mind, body and environment

Ask for feedback 

- Listen to other people’s perspective

Source: Betz (2021) @

• Identify your emotions

- What emotions do you experience each day?
- How often do you listen to your body?
- What causes some of your negative emotions?

• Recognize your coping mechanisms

- What are your most common coping mechanisms?
- When do you get the most defensive in life?
- What coping mechanisms did you develop as a child that no longer serve you?

• Define own beliefs independently

- What are your core values?
- When have you got caught up trying to please others?
- When have you based your decision more on other people’s expectations than your own?

• Prioritize what gives you joy and purpose

- What gives you joy and purpose?
- How often do you prioritize joy in your everyday life?
- What do you put above your joy and why?

• Identify your strengths and shortcomings

- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- How can you redesign your life or environment to emphasize your strength?

• Reflect on your needs in relationships

- What do you value most in friendships?
- What qualities do you need in a romantic partner?
- How often are you able to express what you need from the people in your life?

• Learn when and how to trust yourself

- What are the things you can trust most about yourself? 
- When do your emotions conflict with decision-making?
- How can you build your confidence?

Source: 2020


The Johari window technique

A psychological tool created by Luft and Ingham in 1955)
Helps understanding and training self-awareness
Emphasis on soft skills (e.g. behavior, empathy, co-operation, inter-group and interpersonal development
Applicable to a variety of situations and environments






Quadrant 1: Open area Quadrant 2: Hidden self
Things we know about ourselves and others know about us.  The part that you are able to discuss freely with others.  Most of the time you agree with this view you have and others have of you. Things we know about ourselves that others do not know.  In this part you hide things that are very private about yourself, this maybe to protect yourself, because you feel ashamed or vulnerable, or perhaps because of modesty.  
Quadrant 3: Blind self Quadrant 4: Unknown self
Things others know about us that we do not know.  E.g. You might see yourself as an open-minded person when, in reality, people around you don’t agree. This area also works the other way. You might see yourself as a “dumb” person while others might consider you incredibly bright.  Things neither we nor others know about us. 
This might refer to untapped potential talents and skills that have yet to be explored by you, your friends, colleagues or managers.


How it works?

Start in open area by self-reflection
Take feedback
Be receptive towards feedback
Consider whether to incorporate


Cultivating self-leadershipClick to read  

• Recognize limits of your mode of behaviour

- Take responsibility for your actions and reactions

• Grow self-awareness

- Analyse regularly when, why and under which circumstances you reacted in certain way
- Practice self-awareness techniques each time you feel overwhelmed

• Define your personal leadership goals and purpose

- Make operative goals and milestones

• Practice self-efficacy

- Assess own leadership competences
- Analyse successes and competences that led to them

• Practice self-acceptance

- Accept yourself without self-criticism and self-sabotage
- Acknowledge parts where you are good and where to improve

• Work on self-management

- Manage time and resources
- Learn to prioritize and leave time for personal development
- Try to avoid multitasking

• Develop self-reflection routine

- Devote time of day for self-reflection
- Identify opportunities for improvement and growth


Key takeawaysClick to read  

Knowing inner you is a first step towards personal growth and happiness
Being self-aware helps us to combat different challenges life throws on us
Self-awareness requires continuous exploration of ourselves
Self-leadership helps us not only to better manage ourselves but also to be better leader to others

Test Yourself!


Self-awareness and self-leadership are two mutually related topics that are gaining relevance in management literature and practice. Developing self-awareness helps improving business success but also allows individuals to more easily cope with external shocks such as pandemics. It is also one of essential ingredients of self-leadership. This unit looks at meaning of both concepts and explains their relevance for individuals and organisations. Practical advices for personal self-awareness and self-leadership development are provided.


Self-leadership, self-awareness, personal development


•    Du Plessis, M. (2019). Positive self-leadership: A framework for professional leadership development. In L. E. Van Zyl & S. Rothman, Sr. (Eds.), Theoretical approaches to multi-cultural positive psychological interventions (p. 450). Springer International Publishing.


•    Duval, S. and Wicklund, R.A. (1972). A theory of objective self-awareness. Academic Press

•    Eurich, T. (2018). What Self-Awareness Really Is (and how to Cultivate It). Harward Business Review. 

•    Betz, M. (2021). Why self-awareness is the key skill for growth, health, and happiness.