Self-management and its impact in leadership

07 May 2021 |
Gabrielle Botelho

Self-management is the second pillar of emotional intelligence. It is a competency that is composed by the following abilities: self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, achievement orientation and initiative. In this article, we will explore how the emotional abilities of self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness can impact our career.


We cannot control what we do not know, so the first step in having emotional self-control is to recognise our emotions and how they manifest in us. In general, they are easy to recognise and shared in different cultures, but each person experiences them in a unique way due to the individual’s experience and values.

The next step is to explore what causes the emotion we want to control. Albert Ellis worked on the premise that emotions which affect us negatively occur because we have a mistaken belief system about ourselves, about others and about the world.

In Ellis’ theory, he explains how an event activates our thoughts and beliefs, triggering emotions. But this experience also has the potential to change them. As Ellis proposes, by identifying these wrong thoughts or beliefs and exchanging them for more real and adaptive ones, we will be able to control our emotions.


In this instance, trustworthiness refers to the likelihood of undesirable events, which defines people's predisposition to engage in a trusting relationship with a person or object while assuming the perceived risks. For example, people feel safe when traveling by plane because they can infer, from the information they have, the low probability of the risk of accidents.

Trust, on the other hand, refers to a concrete action, taking risks on the behaviour of the other party based on a positive expectation of reciprocity. When one person decides to trust another -based on the specific contextual situation - that can lead the other person - whom one trusts - to honour this investment of trust.


Conscientiousness is one of the five personality traits of the so called ‘Big Five’ traits in the personality theory (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism) that is used in HR to support people decisions. A person scoring high in conscientiousness in a personality test, for example, usually has a high level of self-discipline, they are methodical and highly perseverant.

People who are trustworthy and conscientious are reliable and have high ethical standards. They are also prepared to confront those who act unethically and they are not afraid to make unpopular decisions if they believe it is the right thing to do.

Antifragility in Trustworthiness and Conscientiousness

The opposite of fragile is antifragile, the capacity we all have to learn, improve and adapt to new ways when facing high pressure situations and hardship. This concept is considered the evolution of resilience.

A leader with these characteristics not only remains calm in times of adversity, but also is able to learn, change and adjust along the way. They flourish and can deliver the best in a difficult situation. By mastering self-control and not letting their impulses to dominate, the leader generates tranquillity and trustworthiness in the team.

In addition, to build trust, leaders must demonstrate conscientiousness and trustworthiness that is only possible when the person is self-controlled. Therefore, as leaders, our primarily development should be on emotional intelligence. We must be able to lead ourselves before thinking of how we lead others.



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