Developing Self-awareness in Early Career Talent

5 minute read

Encouraging self-awareness and empathy in early career talent is vital to helping them become the future leaders of your company. Introducing concepts around emotional intelligence will help them not only perform better as individuals but your teams will become healthier, happier and more productive as a result. 


Emotional Intelligence, also known as Emotional Quotient (EQ), is the measured ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in positive and productive ways and broadly consists of two competencies: self-awareness and social intelligence. Self-awareness is one of our most popular modules we delivered globally in 2023.

Self-awareness as a trend

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 is widely respected as a barometer of trends in skills and leadership training. It found that while analytical and creative thinking remain the most important skills for employees, additional desirable core skills of self-awareness and empathy were both in the top ten, being fourth and eighth respectively. It is clear that early career talent can benefit from programs designed to enhance this as a core skill. HR managers and directors can respond by factoring in training on both of these areas, beyond the typical analyses and creativity, in order to create well-rounded business leaders of the future.

What do we mean by self-awareness and emotional intelligence and why is it so important for early career talent? EQ is commonly defined in four key attributes:

It is one of the skills more associated with leadership success and teaches graduates not only what emotional intelligence looks like and how to practice it, but how to consistently apply it in the workplace.

Why self-awareness is so important for early career talent


It is widely accepted that employees don’t leave companies, they leave leaders. Self-awareness promotes the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection to become a better leader. It is an intentional practice of examining inner thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviour and is the foundation of personal development. For early career talent, mastering self-awareness can enhance virtually every experience they have, as it is a tool and a practice that can be used anywhere, anytime, to ground themselves in the moment, realistically evaluating the situation, and helping them make effective choices.

Stress is a key topic of debate right now and managing the stress of others is key for any graduate and the first step in building emotional intelligence. In every day practice, self-awareness helps people better manage their stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others and diffuse conflict. These are clearly all vital skills for any successful leader and crucial to building better teams. In the working environment, self-awareness training enables graduates to recognise their own emotions and examine how those impact decision making and behaviour. It leads to them becoming more confident managers who are better able to adapt to the changing needs, workloads and strategies required of their teams.

The values of Emotional Intelligence for early careers

A recent study brought up some stark figures on the values and importance of emotional intelligence. In Gartner’s global study Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2024, it found that 75% of HR leaders said their managers felt overwhelmed by their growing responsibilities. It also found that some 82% said their managers were not equipped to lead change effectively, which only confirms the need to expose early career talent to these concepts as soon as possible.

The report surveyed more than 500 HR leaders across 40 countries and all major industries to identify and assess the top HR trends, priorities and expected challenges for 2024. Developing leader and manager effectiveness came out on top as a key concern. One of the suggested actions that needed to be taken was the ‘rewiring of manager habits’ and it said: the best organisations have realised that investing in ‘traditional manager development programs alone is not enough’ and HR leaders needed to ‘Equip managers to build strong people management habits through intentional cues, maintainable routines and focused reflection.’

Developing early career talent into effective leaders

Self-awareness and emotional intelligence are going to be hot topics of discussion in 2024. Graduates who hare starting out on pathways to becoming managers need to have an understanding of the importance of emotional intelligence, so they can better implement the benefits with their teams.

Learning through a Development Beyond Learning (DBL) module, several key learning outcomes can be achieved that directly empower early career talent to become self-aware and emotionally intelligent. These would include them being able to:

  • Clearly define what Emotional intelligence is, what it means in the day-to-day business environment, and the role of self-awareness within it

  • Identify the benefits of achieving a high EQ in the workplace

  • Effectively utilise the tools and strategies needed to increase internal and external self-awareness

  • Recognise that other people’s behaviours can influence our feelings

  • Understand how emotions directly impact performance, which might be linked to personal energy and motivation levels


DBL’s Self-awareness module is one of our top 10 global human skills and was our most delivered topic in 2023. We can help your early talent develop this critical skill. Contact the team to find out more.

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