Leaders like to lead.
But when we say we “like” to lead, we usually mean we like to lead others, right?
One of the essential truths that any good leader needs to learn is that leadership begins with you. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.
The Foundation for Exceptional Leadership
Self-leadership is defined as “the process” of influencing oneself to establish the self-direction and self-motivation needed to perform.
I believe that self-leadership is the foundation for leadership, and unfortunately, it’s not the flashy part. It’s the tough part. It doesn’t get a lot of attention or affirmation. No one is singing your praises for leading yourself well, but self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for exceptional leadership. I promise!
There is a person with whom you spend more time than any other, a person who has more influence over you, and more ability to interfere with or to support your growth than anyone else. This ever-present companion is your own self. Dr. Pamela Butler, Clinical Psychologist
Tough Truths About Self-Leadership
Before we dive into some ways to lead yourself, let me share a few more tough truths about self-leadership.
- From a human perspective, no one else cares more about your personal development than you do.
- You can’t wait for someone else to lead you.
- No one else owes you leadership.
- No one else is responsible for your leadership development.
Ouch! I know.
But if you understand the hard work of self-leadership and pour yourself into it without expectations of others or an entitled attitude, you will develop the character and core of a remarkable leader.
3 Core Self-Leadership Elements
Here are what I believe are the core elements of developing self-leadership.
You’ll need to unpack them and determine what steps you will need to take to grow in each of these areas.
Who you are when no one is looking?
- It requires attention to your spiritual and emotional health.
- It means expecting more from you than others do.
What qualities do you want to be true about your character? Relentlessly pursue the development of them.
Be the one to get it done.
- Set goals for yourself in all areas: personal, professional, family, and fun.
- Take initiative.
- “Leaders are readers.” Read voraciously.
- Be a lifelong learner, and be a fanatic about it.
- Surround yourself with mentors and people smarter than you.
- Know your strengths & weaknesses.
- Seek counsel.
- Identify mentors.
- Always evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation.
You create most of your opportunities by the choices you make in leading yourself.
How are you doing in the area of self-leadership?
What one thing could you start working on today to improve?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning there is no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission if you use the links to make a purchase.