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4 Archetypes of Self-awareness

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Leadership Competency Model (25-slide PowerPoint presentation). Behavioral competencies have long been utilized across many organizations to assess the competencies and potential of leaders. The competency models are prevalent due to several reasons--shared vocabulary to express the expectations from people, a basis for performance management planning, clarity [read more]

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Self-awareness is a critical component of personal growth and development, as it allows individuals to analyze their strengths, weaknesses, and values, as well as the manner in which these attributes affect the people around them.

Self-awareness is a critical skill for effective Organizational Leadership.  Leaders who possess a high level of self-awareness are better equipped to lead their teams with clarity, empathy, and integrity.

People who understand their personalities well have the following key attributes:

  • They are more confident and creative.
  • They make better decisions, cultivate durable relationships, and communicate more effectively.
  • They are less likely to mislead, deceive, and misappropriate.
  • Such people are better workers and have better chances of getting promoted.
  • They are more potent leaders with more content employees and more profitable organizations.

An in-depth study conducted from 2014 to 2018 based on the following parameters delved into what self-awareness truly is, why it is essential, and how it can be enhanced:

  • Analysis of 800 existing scientific studies as well as 10 separate investigations with nearly 5,000 participants across various countries and industries.
  • In-depth interviews with 50 people who had dramatically improved their self-awareness.
  • A survey of 100s of managers and their employees to learn more about the relationship between leadership and self-awareness.
  • One of the outcomes of the study consisted of the development and validation of a 7-factor, multi-rater assessment of self-awareness.

The conclusion of the study resulted in the identification of 4 Leadership archetypes through various combinations of 2 self-awareness facets—internal and external—each with a varied group of opportunities for improvement.

  1. Introspectors
  2. Seekers
  3. Pleasers
  4. Aware

Each archetype has its own distinctive set of prospects for improvement.  Let us delve a little more deeply into some aspects of the 4 archetypes.


Seekers are unaware of who they are, what their fundamental values are, or how others perceive them.  As a consequence, they may well consider themselves trapped or unfulfilled with regards to their performance and relationships.

Seekers may struggle with Decision-making and feel overwhelmed by the multitude of options available to them.  They may also feel disconnected from others who do not share their quest for meaning and purpose.

Embracing the unknown and being open to new experiences and perspectives will develop internal as well as external self-awareness in seekers.


They are aware of who they are but do not contest their own perspectives or explore their unperceived deficiencies by seeking feedback from others.  This can impair their relationships and restrain their success. 

Commitment to personal growth and development through introspection and reinforcing it with feedback from external sources can enhance self-awareness in Introspectors.


Their excessive focus on presenting a certain image of themselves to others results in them neglecting what matters to them.  With the passage of time, they are liable to make choices that are not conducive to their own success and fulfillment.


They have a clear understanding of their identity and goals and look for and respect others’ views.  In such a state, the leaders start to fully attain the real advantages of self-awareness.

Interested in learning more about 4 Archetypes of Self-awareness?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on 4 Archetypes of Self-awareness here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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