The purpose of this research was to investigate the relationship between leaders’ self-awareness and their effectiveness.
The sample group was obtained using a snowball chain-sample method using the researcher’s
network of contacts from various industries, of which 89 participated (response rate = 20%), and
yielded a sample of 179 leaders, with at least four direct reports responding (N=761). Fifty-two
percent of the leaders were female, over 80 percent had completed a minimum of four years of
college, and their years as a leader was more evenly distributed between the three categories, five
to 10 years of leadership experience (38%), 11 to 20 years (26%), and over 20 (26%).
Approximately 20+ percent were each in manufacturing or finance/insurance, and another eleven
percent each in either healthcare or technology/telecom. Respondents completed either the Self
or Observer forms of the LPI and the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI;
Boyatzis, Good & Massa, 2012).
The most frequently used leadership practice reported by leaders was Enable, followed by
Model, Encourage, Inspire, and Challenge. Each of the five leadership practices and selfawareness
were positively correlated, although at a low level of effect (ranging from .16 to .29).
The correlations between the five leadership practices and self-awareness was not significantly
different between male and female leaders. All but Challenge showed significant differences by
level of education. Specifically, the correlation between self-awareness and Model was
noticeably higher in the Graduate/Post Graduate degree participants (r = .5556), whereas those
with Bachelor degrees showed almost no correlation at all (r = .0389); Inspire was also highly
correlated with Grad/Post participants (r = .8771), and again the Bachelor level participants
showed the least relationship (r = .1490). Enable showed the greatest correlation with the No
Degree participants (r = .6959), and Grad/Post Grad participants were also highly correlated (r =
.6331). The strongest correlation in terms of education was noticeable in the Encourage the Heart
practice, where the Grad/Post Grad participants correlation was r = .9739. Only Model showed
significant differences in correlations with self-awareness on the basis of time in leadership roles,
with those with 5-10 years showing the lowest correlations (r = .1705) compared to those with
11-10 years (r =.5933) and 20+ years (r = .5509).
The most frequently used leadership practice reported by observers was Enable, followed by
Model, Encourage, Inspire, and Challenge (the same rank order as reported by leaders, although
the average scores of leaders were higher than that reported by their observers). Each of the five
leadership practices and self-awareness were positively correlated at a relatively high level of
effect (ranging from .73 to .83).
The author notes: “The Leadership Practices Inventory has provided over 40 years of research
validating that these five practices reflect exemplary leadership practices (Kouzes & Posner,
2012). The direction and strength of the relationship between leaders’ self- awareness and their
direct reports ratings for each of the five leadership competencies appears to support the need for
self-awareness development and leadership effectiveness development” (p. 84).