Executive Master of Leadership Blog

Developing Leadership Skills through Reflection and Self-Discovery

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 20, 2018 3:32:00 PM / by John Schiavone


Learn how a regular practice of self-reflection leads to a world of self-discovery, personal growth, and leadership development with USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy's Executive Master of Leadership team and master's student, David Gevorkyan.

Gaining Self-Awareness in Leadership

David Gavorkyan [3 minutes]

Leadership interview with David Gevorkyan was conducted by the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy's Executive Master of Leadership program.


A Career in Leadership

USC Price: Tell us about your journey through leadership.

Gevorkyan: I was about to write down that I wanted to become a psychology major and I realized that helping people one on one was a wonderful and terrific thing to do, but as a career and as a life path it didn't seem like it was enough for me. A short amount of time on Earth helping people one at a time didn't seem like the best way to help enough people in my career.

Instead, I chose political science with the thought and the understanding that instead of helping people individually, I could help people on a much larger scale. I wanted to help masses of people, communities, cities, states, even an entire country, and bring about positive changes.

After political science, I wanted to improve and become better at what I do to increase the value I bring to helping people. I took courses in more specific fields, and I eventually arrived, about 10 years later, at the University of Southern California going for my Executive Master of Leadership.

I realized that the more people I helped, the more experience I gained. Different places and people helped me realize that leadership is a very humbling experience. The more responsibility you have, the more you're placed in leadership roles, and the more that you learn about yourself you begin to realize that you really don't know anything at all, and there's still so much to learn.

That alone becomes a process of self-discovery and self-development. You go back to step one and make the decision to choose a career because you want to help people. You need to learn more about yourself and learn about your own strengths and weaknesses, and live by example as well as serve by example. It has been a constant journey of self-development, self-discovery, redevelopment, recreating yourself and becoming a better version of you.

It helps redefine what leadership really means. It's not about just leading people towards a specific goal or objective. It's also leading yourself so that you can serve by example and serve through the best version of yourself. Offer the best version of yourself to the people, groups, and communities that you want to help to provide better solutions to problems that affect the modern day real world.


"Leadership is not about just leading people towards a specific goal or objective. It's also leading yourself so that you can serve by example"


USC Price: Can you tell us more?

Gevorkyan: One of the important techniques of becoming a better leader is practicing self-reflection. Sitting down, writing what you have experienced throughout your day, and converting your thoughts and feelings into words and sentences. It is actually pretty challenging.

Once you get into the habit of self-reflection and forcing yourself to put it into words and sentences it makes sense. You begin to see unusual patterns form on paper, recurring thoughts, emotions, and triggers that invoke or inspire certain feelings which determine what approach you take or what decisions you make.

Through the self-reflection process, you get to dive deep within your inner world and subconscious mind. You are able to better evaluate who you are as an individual and how you interact with the environment that you've placed yourself in.

It becomes a journey of seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes and see your own limits. You question whether they are limitations or just paradigms. You get into this critical thinking process. You discover your way of thinking and that it's your fingerprint, thoughts, emotions, and experience. There is no other person in the world that can be feeling, thinking, or experiencing the same exact thing as you are.

It feels empowering to know that you can become a better person, a better leader, and that you have the leadership tools to be able to understand [leadership] better. You can understand why things happen or why you take a certain approach. You can measure the outcome against your own skill set and apply it to your approach.

As an individual, you also understand how the individual is a component of and a greater piece to an organization, workforce, community, or city. We all share the responsibility of leadership and we need to be accountable to one another through our actions. We need to lead one another and arrive at a solution, objective, or destination where hopefully we're improving our lives and we're improving the lives of those around us.


"We all share the responsibility of leadership and we need to be accountable to one another through our actions.

Finding your Leadership Compass

USC Price: Tell us a bit about your Leadership Compass. You spoke before about discovering your own values, and painfully discovering they weren't matching the environment that you were in. How has what you learned oriented your Leadership Compass?

Gevorkyan: One of the important things that I discovered was my unique leadership compass. The better equipped I got with experience, coursework, stronger professional background, or a stronger academic background the more refined my leadership compass became. 

What this leadership compass helped me do was to understand whether or not my life, my goals, my objectives, the projects I was working on, or the service that I was offering, aligned with my personal and professional values, or with my philosophy and perspective about the world.

The better I became at self-reflecting the more I learned about myself and the stronger this compass became. It became easier to navigate the direction that my life is going and the projects that I want to work on or the things that I want to achieve in life. You realize that such a compass exists because we as human beings place so much importance on our own personal values and our perspective about life.


Discover your Leadership Compass


Enacting Positive Change Through Leadership

USC Price: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Gevorkyan: One person can make a big difference. That is why we give so much importance to electing our country's leader or making sure that we hire the right people to manage projects. One person can make a big difference.

That difference in the workplace could create a positive environment or a negative environment. It could be the difference in whether the staff gets placed into low gear or if they're working at their most optimal level where productivity increases for the entire organization.

The more responsibilities I've had, the more leadership positions that I've served in, and the more I learned about leadership. In my Executive Master of Leadership program, the more I came to believe that one person can, in fact, make a difference.

The change can be subtle or it can be radical. It can be seen in across the world where people elect new leaders with hopes of having a brighter future for an entire country, or with small teams recruiting talent with specific personalities and visions to ensure their start-up is successful.

It is important to hold onto that belief that one person can make a difference in a community, organization, or even country, and I want to be that better version of myself to be able to bring about those positive changes.

That is why I chose a life filled with different roles in leadership and most importantly to prepare myself to become an agile leader whether it's at home, in my personal life, professional career, or out in my community. I will be able to assume leadership roles, work with different types of people and organizations with various missions, perform at my best, and offer the best that I can to those that I'm entrusted to serve.

Leadership Development Quotes

Leadership development program student David Gevorkyan.   Executive leadership development training degree student David G on leading yourself.USC leadership training program uses self-reflection to help students navigate their career. Leadership is a humbling experience.

Leadership Development Videos



Download a brochure for USC's Executive Master of Leadership degree program.

Topics: Leadership Development, Leadership Journey

John Schiavone

Written by John Schiavone

John C. Schiavone is a writer and technology professional specializing in leadership development.

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