Self-Awareness is the Start of Leadership
Lead Coach and Facilitator at Choose Leadership | Working with Purpose Driven Leaders and Organisations
blackand white picture of an eye looking directly at you

Regina Vogel and I spent time this week with a group of young leaders who will be a crucial part of a Theory U initiative in the Irish public sector.

As we engaged with them and got to know them, we noticed that they were conscious of their newness and that others might perceive them first and foremost as lacking experience. As we engaged with them in a coaching dialogue, we were struck by one thing in particular: they brought an unexpectedly high level of self-awareness.

They were aware that they themselves held the belief that “we are not experienced enough”. They appreciated the likely impact of this belief on their behaviour. And as we worked with them, they shared how they noticed that belief shifting and the liberating impact that this shift was having for them at that moment.

This was not just a powerful moment for them, but also for us.


For these young leaders, they came to appreciate the power of their self-awareness, and what becomes possible when you are present to your experience of the world inside you and the world around you.

For us, it was a practical illustration of Jung’s dictum that “until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Their self-awareness allowed them to bring a consciousness to the dialogue and to shift from being subject to a limiting belief to being at choice.

When we are at choice, we respond, rather than react, to our inner and outer worlds. Being ‘respondable’ allows us to be responsible for our thoughts and behaviour. By increasing our inner complexity, we become able to be more courageous. 

With our thoughts and words we create our world every day. Self-awareness allows us to more intentionally choose our words and thoughts.

These young leaders may not have the experience they thought they need, but in fact, they have something much more valuable: the natural ability to bring fresh eyes and ears to their organisation.

And this will be key to the organisation seeing and hearing things that they have heard many times before from a different perspective. Which changes everything. 

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