It should surprise few people that the companies with a higher return on revenue (ROR) employed professionals with a higher level of self awareness.

The literature on leadership has long reflected a theory that emotional intelligence, of which self awareness is one component, results in better outcomes. Intuitively this seems right – self awareness allows people to understand themselves and their impact on their environment and fellow workers, which one would expect to lead to better productivity.

In A better return on Self-awareness, Zes and Landis have confirmed that there is in fact a direct relationship between leader self-awareness and organisational financial performance.

So if it leads to better financial outcomes, organisations would be advised to view self awareness as one of the “hard” skills, up there with literacy and numeracy.

In general, however, leaders who spend time and money understanding and changing themselves are a very rare breed. Most leaders are critically aware of their organisations’ performance, productivity, ROR, market share, financials. In fact they have become experts in data, but neglect being experts on themselves. Is it because they figure, as an expert, I don’t need to learn, just keep using the skills I have to continue with my success? Until of course, they hit a situation they are not equipped to deal with – what happens then?

Training for self awareness can be a confronting proposal – most of the time executives do not get honest feedback. The further up the chart you are, the more likely people will either defer to your expertise or tell you what they think you want to hear.

So, to develop future leaders, put self awareness on top of the agenda; give executives unique experiential processes to develop heightened levels of understanding of what their strengths and development needs are.

Self-awareness is crucial to knowing what strengths we can engage in certain circumstances, and under what conditions a strength becomes a weakness.

Self-awareness helps us understand our vulnerabilities, blind spots and emotional intelligence and direct them appropriately.

When we are truly in touch with ourselves, it is easy to gain the trust and respect of the people around us, which leads to greater organizational outcomes and ROR.

And there’s nothing better than a horse to give you honest feedback to heighten your self awareness.