Self-awareness is Critical to Being a Successful Servant Leader

self awareness post it noteAnthony K. Tjan and Richard J. Harrington found it to be true while conducting research for their book, Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck. So did the researchers at Green Peak Partners and Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic also found it to be true while researching his book, True North. The “it” they are all referring to? Self-awareness, and the fact that it is one of the top indicators of leadership success.

According to Tjan (2012) and Harrington, self-awareness is the one leadership quality that trumps all others from a leadership effectiveness perspective. George (2011) explained that in interviewing 125 leaders, he learned that leadership does not come from endowed with specific traits or characteristics. It comes from knowing oneself, knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, and by understanding one’s life story and experiences and how they frame develop one’s abilities.

Larry Spears, former CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, identified 10 characteristics of servant leaders based on his discussions with, and readings of, Robert K. Greenleaf, the grandfather of servant leadership. Awareness is fourth on the list. According to Spears (2010), “awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the servant leader. Awareness helps one in understanding issues involving ethics, power, and values. It lends itself to being able to view most situations from an integrated, holistic position.”

If my experience in helping to develop successful leaders has taught me anything, it is that those individuals who are already self-aware are the easiest to help improve their leadership skills. And they tend to be very successful.

Want to be a servant leader? Become self-aware.


Tjan, A. K. (2012, July). How leaders become self-aware. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2012/07/how-leaders-become-self-aware/

George, W. (2011, February). Leadership skills start with self-awareness. Retrieved from http://www.billgeorge.org/page/leadership-skills-start-with-self-awareness


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