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  • drnicoladepaul

Effective leaders build a practice of self-awareness

Self-awareness is the core of effective leadership. And I'm talking about leadership that goes beyond any role you may hold. You are a leader in your life as much as you are a leader in your healthcare system.


This week I wrapped up a class I teach on self-awareness and values-based decision-making. I’ve taught it for almost ten years, yet each cohort blows me away as participants report their changes after just five weeks.


One of the comments that struck me this week came from a participant who’d been particularly ambivalent during session one. She shared that the class had inspired her to turn toward her values and to make decisions to proactively embrace things she cares about instead of focusing her attention on avoiding things she finds offensive.


It’s a subtle but transformative distinction. And her words resonated with me. I am approaching this summer season as a season of rest and restoration. For me, that means working less, yes, and learning to intentionally focus more of my time on play and creative activities.


Doing less of what doesn’t feel good is a start, but doing more of what nourishes, energizes, and gives me purpose is necessary to create a meaningful life.


My work as a psychologist focuses on helping people approach complex and often painful situations and experiences. Or, said more simply, helping people do hard things, whether that’s the pain of acknowledging trauma as an individual or the intense vulnerability experienced by a leadership team engaged in listening to their employees’ frustrations.


When I work with leaders doing hard things, it’s not enough for them to muscle through difficulty. Instead, we work on a process of self-awareness that allows them to engage with challenging tasks and people in a new way that creates space for interpersonal restoration, self-honoring boundaries, community building, and joy.


Doing the hard work of leading others through difficulty and suffering can be arduous.


It’s common to experience shame, numbness, rigidity, disengagement, and isolation when faced with failure or overwhelming challenges. And so, while never comfortable, turning towards emotional awareness helps leaders sustain themselves and rebuild emotionally healthy organizational communities built on belonging, flexibility, engagement, and pleasure.



Explore these ideas further with Dr. Sahana D’Silva as she highlights the impact your commitment to self-awareness has on the ultimate contribution of your team and organization. When you live your values and honor yourself daily, you shift the system you are living in and energize your team.


Bio: Dr. Sahana D'Silva is an Integrative Psychiatrist and Transformational Leadership Development Coach. She coaches physicians in interpersonal communication skills and co-founded Tree of Life Soul-Centered Wellness.

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