Lake Forest Leadership Model: Self-Awareness - Know Yourself First

Dr. Bryan Watkins

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

At Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, we consider self-awareness to be a foundation of successful leadership. Time and again we’ve seen a lack of self-awareness become a stumbling block for promising leaders. Conversely, leaders with a keen sense of self are better equipped to overcome obstacles and continue to develop other key leadership skills such as engaging others and demonstrating agility in the face of uncertainty.

Being self-aware requires you to re-assess yourself frequently. You need to both understand and manage your strengths and weaknesses. You need to be aware of your own emotions and know how to handle yourself in a wide variety of situations. Being able to connect and gain the trust of others, skills critical to effective leadership, require self-confidence and honesty about your personal gifts and challenges.

If this seems like a touchy-feely concept, it’s actually all business. Various studies show that self-aware people have a high rate of success. They move businesses forward because they are able to:

  • Put the business – and other people – before themselves. Because they are typically confident in their abilities, they do what they do best, while also creating an environment where others can reach their full potential. They inspire others to solve problems and work to achieve specific goals.
  • Stay on track. Self-aware leaders know what derails them – and even if they don’t, they don’t get completely thrown off when obstacles get in their way. They recognize challenges, and come up with strategies to face them.
  • Exude positivity. Whether times are bad or good, the most self-aware leaders are able to communicate optimism to others. That doesn’t mean sugar-coating bad situations. Rather, they help others see the path to making things better.
  • Stretch their abilities. Business leaders are always going to be thrown into unfamiliar situations. Those who are most self-aware use their existing strengths and seek to improve on weaknesses. They’re not afraid to ask questions and learn from others.

There are many ways to gain self-awareness, ranging from self-observation to formal assessments. Our proven Leadership MBA curriculum incorporates the Lake Forest Leadership Model, provides an outlet for students to continually evaluate themselves and practice self-awareness. Our Corporate Learning Solutions leadership development programs actively develop and nurture the trait of self-awareness so individuals understand and manage their personal strengths and weaknesses to optimize their leadership impact.

Additionally, we have collaborated with Crain’s Chicago Business for Crain’s ExecEdge, a six-month management program, which includes self-assessments, coaching and collaborative projects to help you discover and improve your level of self-awareness – developing the skills that will propel your career forward.


Bryan J. Watkins, Ed.D.Dr. Bryan J. Watkins, Ed.D. is Chief Academic Officer and Vice President at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Bryan has a breadth and depth of experience in multiple higher education institutions that includes direct responsibility for accreditation, faculty relations, and program and curriculum design and development, as well as virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face program delivery, admissions, marketing, and sales. He is a member of the School’s Leadership Team. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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