Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 1 day left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Emotional self-awareness

What is emotional self-awareness and how can it help leaders to support and protect staff health and wellbeing? Find out more in this article.
© The King’s Fund

In this opening step, we are going to look at a skill and personal quality that will help you to model healthy behaviours and retain the intellectual and emotional bandwidth to attend to those around you.

It’s been said that leadership development is about learning to become yourself more skilfully. If that’s true, then the foundation for ‘knowing yourself’ is growing your emotional self-awareness.

Emotional self-awareness is the ability to tune into your feelings, understand what they are telling you, and recognise how they affect you, your performance and others around you. Without emotional self-awareness our emotional and social intelligences cannot grow, and without these, management and leadership are both much harder and very much less effective. Put simply, emotional self-awareness is perhaps the most important quality any manager or leader can learn.

This is because having a good awareness of our emotional life is what allows us to regulate our own emotions, and to hold an awareness of what is going on around us. Being able to do these things well means we manage relationships with others in ways that are healthy and more effective. Emotional self-awareness then is the foundation of your social and emotional intelligence, your style of management and leadership, and your ability to manage life’s pressures and stress. The diagram below is based on the work of Daniel Goleman and summarises this model of emotional intelligence.

Please note the content of the diagram used in this step will be available to download in a more accessible format at the bottom of this page.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth. (Mayer & Salovey 1997)

What can you do to grow your emotional self-awareness? Self-reflection is a good place to start, the more regular the better, and techniques such as journalling can provide you with a medium and structure for this. There are also many emotional intelligence questionnaires that can help you explore your strengths and what you might need to develop. Feedback from colleagues is also a powerful way of soliciting information about yourself and how others experience you.

To complete this step, we’d like you to have a go at one or more of the following exercises in developing your emotional self-awareness.

© The King’s Fund
This article is from the free online

Leading Well for Staff Health and Wellbeing in the NHS

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now