Becoming Self-Aware

Becoming Self-Aware

Public Service Leadership Model

Becoming Self-Aware

Becoming self-aware begins with an introspective understanding of your values, thought patterns and motivations, all of which are essential to personal development and better interactions with others. Self-awareness is an anchor, enabling you as a leader to stay true to yourself and perform at your highest level in service to the American public. The five subcompetencies to becoming self-aware include:

Self-Reflection Authenticity Emotional intelligence Integrity Continuous Learning


Regularly reflect, test assumptions and seek feedback.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

– Margaret J. WheatleyWriter and organizational behavior consultant

Thumbnail for Four tips to help you complete a self-assessment

Whether you are a leader, or aspiring to be one, ensure you are doing the best work for your team by taking the time to assess your strengths and weaknesses and reflect on your capabilities. Federal employees face new challenges as a result of COVID-19, making this a good time to do a self-assessment.

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General Les Lyles shares the story of his leadership journey in service to the country, including notable points of self-reflection on values and contribution.General Les Lyles shares the story of his leadership journey in service to the country, including notable points of self-reflection on values and contribution.

Thumbnail for Clarity in the Future Through Self-Reflection

Ms. Vicky Herrera speaks about the importance of self-reflection and how it allows people to gain clarity for the future. She emphasizes on the approach of looking within oneself to know how to ask the right questions and to know how to answer them.

  • What strengths do I bring to my work?
  • In what areas do I feel unsteady and want to improve?
  • How will I seek continuous feedback about my performance? Who are my trusted sources for feedback?
Additional resources

READ: How A Daily Self-Reflection Practice Improves Leadership Performance – Naz Beheshti, Contributing writer and consultant, Forbes

READ: A Time for Reflection: Understanding Yourself in Times of Change – Stacie M. Rivera, Public Affairs Specialist at Veterans Affairs, GovLoop

WATCH: The Science of Character – Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, author, public speaker


Act according to your belief system.

“Authentic Leaders are not afraid to show emotion and vulnerability as they share in the challenges with their team. Developing a solid foundation of trust with open and honest communication is critical to authentic leadership.”

– Farshad AslThe “No Excuses” Mindset: A Life of Purpose, Passion, and Clarity

Thumbnail for Authentic leadership: Why showing up as yourself matters

Understand what authentic leadership is, why it’s important it’s an important trait in today’s workforce, and how to better demonstrate it to your colleagues.

Thumbnail for Doug Conant on Being Self-aware

Doug Conant reflects on his career as former CEO and president of Campbell Soup Company pinpointing a vital element for a successful leader – self-awareness.

Thumbnail for Improve Leadership Presence

Muriel Maignan Wilkins, coauther of Own the Room, talks through the three essential elemnts of having a positive presense – assumptions, communication strategy, and your energy.

  • How do I want to be known to others? What qualities of myself are most important to demonstrate?
  • In what situations or with what people do I tend to:
    • Hide or downplay myself or my strengths, or
    • Fear admitting my flaws, or
    • Forget my personal boundaries, or
    • Feel as if I’m not good enough, or
    • Create pressure to “fit in”
    • Examining the above situations or people, what might be contributing to this tendency to shy away from authenticity?
Additional resources

READ: Seeking Authentic Leadership?  – Ruth McGowan, Research Scientist and consultant 

WATCH: Authentic Leadership – Dana Born, retired brigadier general in the United States Air Force

WATCH: The Authenticity Paradox – Herminia Ibarra, Author and Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School

Emotional Intelligence

Recognize your emotions and those of others; use this information to manage behavior. 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how they made you feel.”

– Maya Angelou, Civil rights activist, poet, author

Thumbnail for Managing the Ebola Crisis

Read about Mia Beers’ success in helping manage the ebola crisis in West Africa while also considering the emotions and customs of both the affected communities and her USAID team.

Thumbnail for Empathy is the most important leadership skill

A new research study from Catalyst shows how leaders that demonstrate empathy towards their colleagues yield positive impacts on engagement, productivity, and stress.

Thumbnail for How Kindness Contributes to Leadership

Listen to General Les Lyles talk about how kindness contributes to leadership effectiveness.

  • How might I practice paying attention to my experience and being present?
  • When I’m feeling stressed, what techniques do I use to cope?
  • What is my level of awareness about how emotions play into my work? The work of others?
Additional resources

READ: 5 Skills to Help You Develop Emotional Intelligence – Mark Manson, Author and personal development consultant

WATCH: Empathy vs. Sympathy – Brené Brown, Research Professor and author

WATCH: Strategies to Become More Emotionally Intelligent – Daniel Goleman, Author and behavioral scientist


Follow moral and ethical principles.

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

– Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and philanthropist

Thumbnail for Shaping the Government’s Legal Position

Learn about Edwin Kneedler’s unwavering integrity and candor as he has worked to tell his clients’ stories fairly and uphold the U.S. Constitution throughout his career at the Department of Justice.

Thumbnail for Charlie Bolden on Leading in Government

In this interview, former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden talks about the unique nature of leading in government and keeping the public good as the focus.

Learn how building trust on an individual level, will produce major payoffs in the future.

  • What moral principles tend to guide my work?
  • Think back to a time when faced with an ethical dilemma. How did I handle it? What did I learn from it?
  • Am I inclined to “do the right thing, even when no one is looking?” What helps or hinders me in practicing integrity?
Additional resources

READ: Leading with Character: Integrity – Michael Lee Stallard, author of Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work

READ: Why Integrity Remains One of the Top Leadership Attributes – Terri Williams, Economist contributing author and journalist

WATCH: Simplifying Humility and Integrity – Joe Sibini, Ted Talk speaker

Continuous Learning

Constantly seek to grow and learn.  

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

– John F. Kennedy, President of the United States

Thumbnail for How to Foster a Culture of Continuous Learning

Ashu Goel, CEO of WinWire Technologies, discusses his insights on continuous learning as an individual leader, and how best to ignite a culture of learning on your team.

Thumbnail for Why a Service to America Medals winner decided to participate in the Excellence in Government Fellows program

Omar Pérez Aybar won a Service to America Medals award in 2014 for his work investigating Medicare fraud in South Florida. Four years later he decided to enroll in the Partnership’s Excellence in Government Fellows leadership development program. Pérez Aybar discusses his choice to join EIG and the importance of continuing to develop your leadership skills.

Thumbnail for Advancing Medical Science

Discover the genius of Ann Mckee, who has spent her career advancing medical science in the field of head trauma through extensive research and study of environmental impacts on the brain.

  • How often am I taking time for formal learning? Informal or on-the-job learning?
  • What sources of feedback do I have on my performance and my professionalism?
  • How will I capture or codify what I’m learning?
Additional resources

READ: Future of Work Requires Leaders Who Value Learning in the Flow of Life – Amy A. Titus, Managing Director in Human Capital at Deloitte Consulting and ATD contributor

READ: Why Continuous Learning is a Sign of Great Leadership – Sean Jacobson, HR Business Consultant and contributor to Leader2Leader

WATCH: The Backwards Brain Bicycle – Smarter Every Day

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