Self Awareness Leadership

Truly Effective Leadership Comes With Self-Awareness

Would you want to work for you? Self Awareness Leadership

Asking yourself this question can greatly improve your leadership skills. Why? Because it’s a first step toward greater self-awareness, which has been proven to be an essential trait of effective leaders.

Self awareness helps leaders to know their natural dispositions and preferences so they can improve upon or compensate for them as needed. It also improves the bottom line. A 2013 study by Korn/Ferry International discovered that “public companies with a higher rate of return (ROR) also employ professionals who exhibit higher levels of self-awareness.”

Wherever you are on the spectrum of self-awareness, consider taking a fresh look at how it can transport your leadership skills to new heights.

Self Awareness Leads To More Emotional IntelligenceEffective leadership

Being self-aware, according to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, is “one of the core components of emotional intelligence.”

And strong emotional intelligence can give you the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others. You can then use that awareness to better guide your own behavior and your relationships with self and others — which makes you a leader that people want to follow.

World renowned researcher who coined the term “emotional intelligence,” Daniel Goleman, elaborates on this concept in a recent business article from The Telegraph. He explains, “If you think of the worst and best bosses you’ve ever had, it had nothing to do with their title or degree, but everything to do with the kind of person they were – for example, whether they were emotionally intelligent or not. People want to work for a person who is.”

If this all makes sense to you, then you’re ready to commit to gaining greater self awareness.

Try These Strategies to Improve Self-Awareness

Here are some easy ways to start down the path to heightened self awareness.

  1. Use one of the many tests available to better understand your behavior and mSelf Awareness Leadershipotives. Some good ones include:
  • Leadership Circle ProfileNot only tells you what is or is not contributing to a leader’s effectiveness, but also tells you “ why” this is so. It gives the leader causational insight into what is happening beneath the surface.
  • Myers Briggs – Reveals your “sweet spot” personality for working and communicating with others, which may or may not be the optimal approach in your work with others.
  • CliftonStrengths (formerly Strengthsfinder) – Shows you your “natural strengths,” which the test defines as your thinking style or the type of work you thrive on.
  1. Learn what triggers your behaviors. What particular drivers make you react a certain way—and why? What are your personal or professional blind spots? Identifying and understanding your triggers can help you achieve more productive interactions with others.
  2. Practice mindfulness. One of the key benefits of practicing mindfulness is a direct increase in self-awareness. The Harvard Business Review recently cited their work with a global IT company from Silicon Valley which showed that “even just five weeks of 10 minutes of daily mindfulness training enhanced the participating leaders’ self-awareness up to 35%.”
  3. Ask for feedback. This can sometimes be tough to hear, so choose someone you trust to share their view of your typical interactions. Be open to what they have to say – and be willing to implement changes if they are in alignment with your priorities and values.
  4. Be easy on yourself. Remember, you’re a work in progress! Look at your successes and what you’ve learned objectively, acknowledging what you did well – and what you might do differently next time. Learning from our mistakes is a key component of gaining self awareness.

Along with the tips above, there’s one more thing for self-aware leaders to practice…

Strong Leaders Combine Self-awareness leadershipSelf-Awareness With Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is simply being aware of how your behavior impacts those you lead and then making adjustments as needed. This proves to your team that you want to bring out their best, without being intimidating or negative.

Leaders with both self-awareness and self-regulation skills set a positive example for their team members to follow, building teams that are more motivated, productive, and willing to courageously grow in their own right.

As a leader, could you ask for anything more?

Looking for more strategies on how to be a leader who is courageously self-aware? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Practice compassionate leadership

Listen Loudly, Speak Softly: How Being Compassionate Can Make You a More Effective Leader

“Strength and compassion are not mutually exclusive.”

Robert Kiyosaki

In many parts of the world, we’re all too familiar with phrases like “The nice guy always finishes last” or “Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Many in the business world continue to associate compassionate leadership behavior with being too “touchy feely” or even unprofessional.

How true is that for you?

Whatever your answer, I invite you to take a closer look at the value of compassionate leadership.

Being Compassionate Leads to Success in Business and Leadership

Leadership compassionStudies have demonstrated that compassionate leadership strategies have positive results. My own experience has shown me the vital role compassion can play in enhancing one’s abilities as an effective leader.

The way to achieve measurable results is to take care of people: the relationships you cultivate always precede meaningful results.

Professor and author Adam Grant, who penned the best-selling Give and Take, discovered that in business, “givers,” a term he coined to represent those who care about others, are both overrepresented at the very bottom and at the very top of the success ladder.

You’re probably wondering “How can that be?!” – right? It all comes down to strategy.

While it is true that “givers” can be taken advantage of, those who learn strategies to prevent that from happening often experience very positive results – more so than those who implement no compassion at all. They rise to the top of the success ladder because people love working with and naturally gravitate to them. It’s a little like fire – a flame can burn you or keep you warm – it’s all in how you use it.

Compassion is a Leadership Strategy That Builds Trust

As you probably are well aware, establishing trust as a leader can achieve very effective results.Practice compassionate leadership

Think about it this way: which of the following scenarios do you think would build more trust?

Suppose that one of the newest members on your team who has shown promising ability doesn’t meet an important project deadline.

A – You express to her in no uncertain terms your dissatisfaction, without taking the time to more deeply understand what happened. You make it known that this isn’t something that can be tolerated and threaten to replace her if it happens again. It’s all about results, and it doesn’t matter how you achieve them.

B – You sit down and start a conversation with her to approach the situation in a way that seeks deeper understanding of what is going on. In doing so, you learn that she has recently experienced some significant personal issues in her life that you may even be able to relate to. Perhaps you share something about yourself to put her at ease and let her know you care. With this new understanding, you both come to a workable solution.

Displaying Compassion Can Help Make You a More Influential Leader

Scenario A simply perpetuates an attitude of harsh indifference; Scenario B opens up the opportunity to cultivate a trusting relationship where the person is not seen simply as a disposable “resource” – but as a valued and respected member of the team. And, more importantly, as a human being.

As I am sure you realize by now, displaying compassion helps others – even when the stakes are high and the situation is very stressful – to feel safe. That cultivates a sense of trust.

It’s that trust you build in your relationships that can help make you an influential leader, and this is just one of the many positive takeaways from practicing compassion in leadership.

Strategies to Enhance Your Abilities as a Compassionate Leader

Use these simple strategies to inject more compassion into your everyday leadership activities:

1- Practice the power of the present moment. Especially in the high-stress, fast-paced business world, it’s easy to let your mind run off in a million different directions. Staying present allows you to be a more effective listener and to focus on what matters in the moment.

2- Listen loudly, speak softly. For many of us, being brief can present a challenge. But compassionate leadership asks us to listen more than we speak, to come from a place of understanding, and to use our words as effectively as possible – especially because humans cannot retain more than a tidbit of information at one time.Effective leadership strategies

3- Be gentle with yourself. Without a deeper understanding of and a willingness to be kind to yourself, you will find it very difficult to show self-compassion to others. Self-compassion can also help boost your self-esteem as you come to see “mistakes” (by you and others) as opportunities for learning and new growth.

May this information inspire you to begin incorporating more compassion into your personal leadership style!

Looking for more strategies on how to effectively practice compassionate leadership? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Leadership language

Commit to Using Effective Leadership Language to Inspire Your Team

Communication is the real work of leadership.

-Nitin Nohria, Dean of the Harvard Business School

As a leader, you likely already know that leadership is comprised of three basic—but very crucial—elements:

  • What you feel (moods and emotions)
  • How you act (body language)
  • What you say (specific words and tones that you speak out loud and/or in your head)

Finding Middle GroundAll of these have many facets to explore, but language is a great starting point since it’s literally how we get our ideas across to others. And, while our spoken language is “only” responsible for 7% of our communication with others, it is still a very powerful vehicle. Spoken language is the very foundation of how we produce outcomes and generate realities in our professional and personal lives.

Join me as together we examine the power of words, as well as six simple strategies to implement today, so you can use the language of leadership to inspire and empower those you lead.

Words: The Building Blocks of Language

We humans are the only beings on this earth that communicate through spoken words. And while tone, volume, and context can affect how we’re perceived, it is words that often matter most.

For instance, think of a time when you felt put down by someone with a soft voice and a smiling face. Or maybe you were told that you did a “great job” in a grudging tone by a boss or co-worker. How did you feel, in either case? Perhaps you can think of a time when your own choice of words impacted someone else significantly, too.

In most cases, it’s the words that hit home to build us up or put us down. A big part of leadership is about choosing the right words to convey our meaning, connect with others, and channel our vision into the hearts and minds of those we lead.

6 Easy Strategies to Speak the Language of Leadership

Effective leaders know the power of a meaningful conversation – it’s often one of the most helpful ways to generate trust, foster cooperation, and craft a shared vision.

Gender Equality | Workplace Equality | Difficult Conversations

Here are some conversation strategies that you can use to stimulate productive dialogue:

1) Change “Yes, but…” to “Yes, and…” – People often associate the phrase “Yes, but…” with the word “no.” Generally, once we hear the word “but,” it cancels out any positive statement made before it. Instead of “but,” use the word “and.” In our minds, “and” allows two statements to be simultaneously true, thus preventing the often unhelpful knee-jerk reaction to the word “but.”

2) Replace “can” with “will.” – Someone telling us they can do something doesn’t necessarily mean they will. The language of commitment requires phrases such as “I will”, “I commit to” or “I choose to.” When it comes to inspiring your team, therefore, asking “Will you?” can be a far more effective approach than merely allowing your team to say what is in their ability to do.

3) Try the phrase: “I wonder if…” This is a great phrase to use when you’re proposing a course of      action that may generate resistance. It tells others that while you don’t have all the answers, you’re curious and willing to put yourself on the hot seat to explore options. It also generates curiosity in your team to get them working on viable alternatives.

4) Be “transparent” rather than “honest.” What happens for you when someone tells you they are going to be “completely honest” with you? How much do you believe them? If you’ve ever said this yourself, what kind of response did you get? People already expect honesty from their leaders. What they need is transparency. Transparency lets others know you are sharing something important, something that requires you to be vulnerable. It also lets listeners know they are valued and trusted with this sensitive information. How willing are you to be transparent?

5) Speak from the heart. Those you lead value authenticity. In an HBR article on the language of leadership, author Tony Golsby-Smith points out that compelling leaders make authentic statements that demonstrate their core values, beliefs…hopes and dreams, even. When you’re in a conversation, don’t see the person as a “resource” – but as someone to relate to on an authentic, human level. Those of you who are familiar with the Iceberg Model will know that sharing “below the waterline” allows for greater vulnerability and therefore connection with and among team members. So, share a personal story where it feels appropriate to do so.

6) A little empathy can go a long way. Building on #5 above, empathy is a highly effective tool to develop and deepen relationships with your team. If empathy still seems elusive to you, begin practicing it in small doses when the situation calls for it. As mentioned above, expressing your own vulnerabilities and sharing your weaknesses in telling a story can lead to a stronger, more unified team.

How well do you really know your team members? Ask those you lead questions that show you care about them more than as “mere” employees” – and share a little more below the waterline about yourself …and experience the results.

Practicing the Language of Leadership

A good leader remembers that every person responds differently to a variety of words and phrases. Learn what energizes your team to make them feel confident and empowered.

It’s also important to understand cultural differences around specific words and language in general. What works for a US-raised employee might not be as well-received by someone who has grown up in the UAE, Singapore or France.

And finally, try these tips one at a time versus all at once so you can keep track of the responses you receive. Consider keeping a journal so you can easily review what specific language generated any shifts in reaction from your team – helpful or unhelpful. You can then make adjustments based on this information.

Using language effectively is one key way for leaders to bring out the best in both themselves and others. Commit yourself daily to this challenge and watch the gifts that unfold.

Looking for more tips on how to learn and effectively practice the language of leadership? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Gender Equality | Workplace Equality | Difficult Conversations

How To Bravely Challenge Workplace Inequality

Recently, one of our Weekly Bold Moves on workplace inequality generated lots of comments and feedback, so much so that I’ve decided to explore in more detail how to handle those difficult discussions with co-workers on this topic.

The Insightful Question on Workplace Equality Was…

Here’s the Bold Move that’s been generating all the buzz:

Do you walk the walk – or just talk the talk? Virtually anyone can say “I’m committed to equality in the workplace” – but words are nothing without action. Are you willing to speak up, stand out, and go against the grain when the right situation presents itself?

This prompted one insightful reader to ask me for examples of how to “tactfully” address the issue of workplace gender equality in a more positive, productive way—with a focus on supporting working moms who are blamed for using non-traditional hours to balance work and family.

Walking The Talk When it Comes to Equality in the Workplace

While there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to this issue, I do have some tips on what you can say and do when you encounter difficult situations to foster a more supportive environment for women and others in the workplace.

  • Be a role model of peace and acceptance. Work on centering yourself around who you are, what values are important to you – and why. As you become more willing to live in alignment with your authentic self, others may be more open and receptive to you. Likewise, a deeper understanding of yourself may help you to better understand others.
  • Use a low-key tone. How often has the wrong tone of voice shut down your listening to what someone says? Whenever possible, keep your tone soft and inviting – not sharp, aggressive, or loud. This is really important if you tend to get “overly enthusiastic” about a topic. And whether you’re listening or speaking, never underestimate the power of body language.
  • Gently challenge assumptions. This one can be a little scary. If you’re comfortable with it, try to help people see that they’re making assumptions that might not be true because they don’t know the whole situation. It’s a brave way to “walk the talk.” You might start the conversation with something like, “I can see how given your experience you might feel that way. I’m just wondering if you might be open to looking at this from a different perspective…”
  • Think dialogue, not debate. Create an open-ended conversation where you’re listening as well as talking. By understanding the other person’s viewpoint, you can help them to start considering yours. Doesn’t everyone appreciate being heard? If you often find yourself saying things like “I can’t believe I said that” or “I wish I would have approached her differently,” try gently practicing self-awareness in your interactions to respond more effectively.
  • Develop conversation starters. What you say will depend on your specific workplace relationship with the person you want to influence, but here are some examples to build on.


    • From a place of centeredness and peace, you could calmly say something like: If we truly are serious about diversity in the workplace/flexible hours, then we also need to honor X’s right to have flexible hours, which for her might mean taking time out to enjoy her daughter’s soccer game or being able to hold and bond with her baby. Or,


    • If other people taking time off is getting under your skin, maybe you need a little time for yourself, too? All of us benefit from that at least once in a while. [This one is to be used with caution – it’s mostly to help shed light on why people can sometimes be judgmental.]


    • Transparency can be key: Instead of jumping at the other person to prove your point or show them how “wrong” they are, consider sharing some of your own vulnerabilities. If it seems appropriate, you might start with something like, “I remember a time when I felt that way too…” then lead into how your own beliefs have since changed.

The Rewards of Courage

Ellyn Shook, the chief human resources officer of Accenture, is one female leader who is leading the charge for “courageous conversations” about gender inequality and sexism in the workplace.

As a recent Catalyst publication points out, having these courageous conversations will “keep the issue on the front burner and educate those around us.” Leaders in particular should continue to challenge the status-quo of workplace gender issues to move it forward, setting an example for others to follow.

Changes in this area won’t happen overnight, but by bravely speaking out we can begin with shifting perceptions—one person at a time. Today, I encourage you to look for opportunities right within your own workplace (and rest assured, they are there!) where you might transform an unproductive conversation into one that fosters deeper understanding and more positive growth for all.

Looking for ways to be a courageous leader who speaks up when necessary to foster workplace equality? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Transformational leadership | Transformational leader | Leadership

Are You Simply A Leader – Or Are You A Transformational Leader?

Are you satisfied with the leadership style you currently practice? Does being a leader come easily to you – or do you feel you have to work at it more than others? Whatever your answer, here’s some good news: there’s a way for every leader—at every level—to achieve greater levels of success for themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

How? With transformational leadership.

Let’s start by taking in a little background on transformational leadership. Then, I’ll walk you through the traits you can employ to become a successful transformational leader.

What Is Transformational Leadership?

This technique was first put forward by James MacGregor Burns, a presidential biographer turned leadership expert. Burns stated that transformational leadership happens when leaders and followers help each other reach higher levels of motivation and success.

Burns’ ideas were later expanded by researcher Bernard M. Bass, who stated that effective transformational leaders earn respect, admiration, and trust from the people they lead.

Transformational leaders aren’t just business smart. They have a passion for their work and the ability to transfer that passion to the people they lead. They’re focused on helping every member of their group succeed and can inspire positive changes in those who follow them.

Although this sounds like a tall order, it’s really quite easy once you understand the basic principles.

The Four Basic Leadership Principles

Bass outlined four basic components of this leadership style, and they help bring home just how effective it can be. If you’re not already, consider how you might incorporate these components into the way you lead…and how you may use these to inspire those around you.

  • Intellectual Stimulation– Transformational leadership means encouraging those you lead to be creative, challenge the status quo, and discover new learning opportunities. This is the opposite of the more “technical” leadership style that dominated the late 20th
  • Individualized Consideration– This style means offering one-on-one support and encouragement to followers. It requires open communication styles so all feel free to share ideas, and intends for leaders to recognize each person’s unique contribution to the group’s success.
  • Inspirational Motivation– Leaders are able to create a clear vision of success, communicate it to their groups, and generate the passion and motivation needed to achieve goals.
  • Idealized Influence– In all cases, transformational leaders are role models for those they lead. Because of their trust and respect for their leader, groups will model and internalize that person’s ideals.

How To Be A Transformational Leader

Building on the ideas above, there are five ways that transformational leaders set themselves apart and drive success for everyone they lead. How many of these do you routinely practice?

  1. Practice Personal Accountability – Research says this is the biggest element for success. Transformational leaders can ask themselves what they need to do better or can recognize what is or isn’t working well. They don’t place blame on external circumstances and don’t wait for those circumstances to change to move forward. Does this ring true in your leadership practices?
  2. Connect With Your Values, Strengths, and Purpose – Write down your values and spend a few minutes each morning deciding how you will bring your full, authentic self to your workplace. Knowing your sense of purpose makes you more confident and flexible when facing stress, changes, and challenges. Who doesn’t want that?
  3. Be Willing To Try New Behaviors And Actions – When old behaviors aren’t working, transformational leaders are willing to try something new, to be more flexible in different situations. Try asking yourself, “Who’s the best self I can be in this particular situation?” and then decide on your actions. How might this kind of agility help you succeed, both in your professional and personal life?
  4. Exercise Curiosity Versus Judgement – We’re hard wired to take the shortest path to our goal, but this also means we can lead “by habit,” making unconscious judgements or assumptions without even realizing it. A good reflective question is “How can I look at this situation differently so we can all achieve ultimate success?” or “What assumptions am I making that I could see differently?”
  5. Find Opportunity In Change – Rather than wasting energy fighting change (in project scope, resources, etc.), transformational leaders ask themselves what’s good about the situation or what can be learned from it. Look for ways to develop something new from the change. It’s not always easy, but it can reap big rewards. How could you apply this right now in your leadership role?

According to Burns, transformational leadership simply tries to answer the essential questions: What is the ultimate goal of leadership and why should someone become a leader?

It’s a very different technique than “My way or the highway.” And it reaps better rewards for everyone it touches. How would practicing transformational leadership make a difference in your organization?

Looking for ways to be a transformational leader who can inspire everyone in your organization to reach higher levels of success? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.


About Colleen

Colleen Slaughter - International Leadership CoachColleen Slaughter, Your Big, BOLDER Life Mentor, is a speaker, coach, author and founder of Authentic Leadership International. She is passionate about providing ambitious International leaders with the courage, confidence and clarity they need to stop selling themselves short, to claim what they really want in business and in life and to go for it!

Clients say Colleen has helped them find their voice, listen to it, and act on it, and that, by doing so, they have gained a sense of freedom, joy and fulfillment beyond measure.

Colleen’s perspectives have been featured in ABC, NBC, CBS, Enterprising Women and the Woman’s Advantage® Shared Wisdom Calendar for 2012, 2015 and 2016.

If she could be granted a superpower, it would be to vanish people’s feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness and to replace them with the deep understanding of how much they, and what they envision for themselves are important.