Confident young African businesswoman standing with folded arms
ATD Blog

Why Self-Awareness Is Essential for Career Development—Including Pursuing Your Next Role

Monday, February 27, 2023

As an L&D professional, you help others heighten their self-awareness, and you observe its impact on employee happiness and engagement. But how often do you enhance your self-awareness? After all, it’s foundational for many of the skills leaders and professionals need—including YOU—to succeed in the new world of work, especially hybrid and virtual formats. And although 95% of us believe we are self-aware, that’s not the case. According to a study by organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich, only 10 to 15 percent of us are self-aware.

Merriam-Webster defines self-awareness as “an awareness of one’s own personality or individuality.” When moving ahead in your career—whether pursuing a promotion, moving to another job function, or becoming your own boss—self-awareness is the starting point.

Self-awareness is important at every point in your career, but it’s vital for developing a strategy to bring you closer to achieving your goals. It allows you to align your career pursuits with who you are, where you want to go, and how you like to deliver value. Specifically, self-awareness helps you:

  • Select among various career options
  • Identify the ideal next steps in your career
  • Understand what sets you apart from others
  • Tell your compelling story and demonstrate confidence
  • Connect authentically with those you’ll meet in the process

So how do you become self-aware?


One of the best ways to achieve self-awareness is to become your own coach and ask yourself these pertinent questions:

  • What about work brings me joy?
  • How do I want to make my mark professionally?
  • What are my top values?
  • What do people come to me for?
  • What do I do better than anyone else?


Getting feedback from others is important to ensure you are aware of blind spots. That includes the feedback you get from your company review process and feedback from people in your broader network. External input is valuable for validating your self-reflection. Look at your performance review data over time to uncover themes in how others experience you.



Tools like Myers-Briggs, Disc, Enneagram, StrengthsFinder, and others can provide insight that you can use to chart your course and position yourself as a unique and valuable candidate.

Skills Development

In addition to reflection, feedback, and assessments, professional development can help you gain clarity.

  • Emotional Intelligence. Self-awareness is the first step of Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence (EQ) four-box model. You must know yourself before you can manage your emotions and actions. And all that must happen before you can truly get to know, understand, and build relationships with others.
  • Johari Window. The Johari Window is a self-awareness model illuminating the differences between how we see ourselves and how others do. The World of Work Project describes it as a tool “based on the premise that our interactions with other people are based on these differing perceptions, and that when we have more aligned views with others, we will be able to have more effective and engaging interactions.”
  • Personal Branding. Perhaps the best way to become self-aware is to focus on your personal brand. The first step of the personal branding process is completely focused on getting to know yourself. You will uncover the six drivers of your personal brand: values, passions, superpowers, differentiators, purpose, and goals. And to define your brand, you must also get feedback from those who know you through brand feedback tools like 360Reach (disclosure: 360Reach is a product of my company, CareerBlast.TV) or echospan. That’s because your brand is held in the hearts and minds of those you seek to influence. The feedback you obtain helps you validate your self-perceptions and clearly understand who you are and what makes you great. My personal branding bias aside, it is truly the best way to prepare for your next career chapter. Why? Once you gain self-awareness, the branding process helps you use that powerful information to position yourself and pursue your career goals.

If you’re preparing for a promotion, a new role, or some other significant change to your career, prioritize becoming self-aware in your career growth plan. Then watch yourself accelerating toward the right roles for long-term rewards throughout your professional journey.

For more insights, Join me at ATD23 for the session: Personal Branding 3.0: The New Rules for Career Success.

About the Author

William Arruda is a motivational speaker and the world’s leading authority on the topic of personal branding. He’s the bestselling author of the definitive books on the topic: Career Distinction, Ditch. Dare. Do! and Digital YOU. He has delivered presentations and workshops to many of the world’s most revered brands including; American Express, BP, Coca Cola, Google, Gucci, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Target. His style is energetic and passionate and he inspires audience members take what they learn and turn it into action so they can turn action into results for their career and organization.

William is the CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of Reach Personal Brandingm and the co-founder of CareerBlast.TV, a personal and digital branding video learning platform. A personal branding pioneer, he has been credited with turning the concept of personal branding into a global industry. He created the first and leading personal brand survey, 360Reach, which has been used by nearly two million professionals. He also developed the premier personal branding certification program for coaches. There are currently 1,000+ certified coaches in 51 countries.

Sign In to Post a Comment
Self-awareness is so key in all we do! Lately, I've started designing management training programs that begin with the manager learning about themselves first - before we even start talking about their interactions with their teams. Thanks for the article!
Bravo @Deborah Castillo, CPTD... That's the most valuable development new managers can engage in!
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.