Cracking the Mystery of Self-Leadership
All the ugly stereotypes of bad leadership are expressions of lousy self-leadership.
Ken Blanchard says, “You can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself.”
Self-leadership felt confusing to me until I defined it for myself. Now it’s painfully clear.
Self-leadership is expecting more of yourself than you expect of others.
Self-leadership is the toughest leadership of all.
It feels powerful to expect more from others than you expect from yourself. But the result is disconnected arrogance.
Exemption is the enemy of successful self-leadership.
List your expectations of others:
- Openness to feedback.
- Grit when progress is slow.
- Curiosity when corrected.
- Going the extra mile.
Self-leaders don’t exempt themselves. Take collaboration for example. Do you make decisions in isolation and expect collaboration from others?
- Do you expect trust from others? Trust yourself. In addition, trust others.
- Do you expect others to show up for meetings on time and prepared? Show up prepared and on time.
- Do you expect openness to your feedback? Seek feedback yourself.
- Do you expect others to show interest in you and your passions? Show interest in them and their passions.
Self-leadership and self-awareness:
You must know yourself in order to lead yourself.
- When are you at your best?
- What elevates your energy?
- What drains energy?
- Who do you need around you in order to perform at your best?
Self-leaders know the answers to the above question for themselves AND the people on their teams.
Authentic learning and self-leadership:
Self-leadership means living the lessons learned in stormy days.
You can easily spot leaders who have suffered well. They have tender hearts and gritty spirits. They know how to endure with tenacity and act with kindness at the same time.
You grow bitter, distant, and cold, when you fail to successfully lead yourself through storms.
If you begin this week with a focus on self-leadership, what shifts in your thinking?
What are the keys to practicing self-leadership?
Knowing yourself, weaknesses and strengths.
Paying attention to details, to accentuate the mission. Build on your success and failures strive for total focus on each segment of ones Leadership, though life’s journey.
Admitting we have flaws, yet we possess the strength and knowledge to correct our mistakes, since we all make them sooner or later.
Thanks Tim. I hadn’t thought about the idea of admitting flaws and weaknesses. That’s another important aspect of self-leadership.
What may not be so obvious is self-leadership isn’t done in isolation. I find that thought intriguing.
So true Dan, we need to seek others critiques as we may one see the partial picture of ourselves.
Nothing like the old gut punch of reality from others views too.
Only GREAT Leaders know themselves.
Strangely, knowing ourselves requires seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. Feedback is essential to self-knowledge. Without it, we might deceive ourselves.
Always remember, as General Welsh said, “Leadership is a gift from those who follow.” Leaders who keep this in mind will inevitably be GREAT.
I agree with Ken —if you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.
Self-Leadership—here are few question I ask myself to stay on the leadership track.
Do I consistently set a positive example?
Do I see what’s possible? Am I open to new ideas?
Do I influence and inspire myself to continue to grow and change?
Do I offer new, innovative ideas to the conversation?
Do I provide support and help, when I should?
Am I present in every interaction?
Am I assuming “positive intent?”
Thanks Paul. You really present some challenging questions. As the list progressed, the last one is a challenge when things go wrong.
Ken’s statement is a reality check!
Great insight and helpful comments. My own take-aways
– You cannot go deep enough in understanding self and building self-awareness so that it is ever present in all thet you do
– The points about soliciting feedback and being collaborative, for many are like oil and water, both have a purpose, but rarely mix well together. However, as we know, they have the potential to be a blend of skill & behaviour that creates such a strong foundation of trust & engagement that team cohesion, improved productivity & performance are a natural consequence.
– Entering deep dialogue to understand others, their understanding of you and what mutual ‘serving’ looks like, needs to become common ‘place’, not commin ‘myth’.
Thanks Tim. “common place not common myth” … that’s wonderfully put.
People who feel understood are free to understand others. The process of self-awareness is more than a self-serving activity.
In addition, we must know our selves if we expect to bring our best selves to challenges and opportunities.
“Man know thyself.”
This, I believe, is one of the most important aspects of leadership. Too often do we think about how to lead others before thinking about leading ourselves down the right path first. We are the example others follow. Great article!
Thanks Stephen. Kouzes and Posner describe self-leadership in terms of modeling the way. You nailed it.
Several years back, either YOU, Dan, or one of your readers wrote about HUMILITY as a great quality of SELF LEADERSHIP. Humility was said NOT to mean we think less of ourselves rather that we think of ourselves less. And it went on to say humility is not passive, a state of not acting with arrogance, but actively getting out of the way and building others up. Humility means putting the mission and others first, consciously stepping aside, consciously stretching others’ abilities, and consciously praising individuals and teams-of-others alike. How about that for age-old thoughts that are new-age on self-leadership?
Dan, this comes at a perfect time. Ironically, or ‘not-just-coincidentally,’ I read this after another telling article on men not just at work but in society, https://qz.com/1100206. Learning Self Leadership begins in the home well before we get into the work environment, but needs greater and more intentional practice there. With it, there would be less need for #MeToo.
Before you can lead others you must be able to lead yourself. Understand your own strengths and weaknesses and understand the strengths and weaknesses in a team. This approach brings about balance where together you can compensate for your collective weaknesses and strength. This take courage as a leader to allow others to step up when need be – but earns the respect of your people.
Love the article. Are there studies on the C-level implementation of these principles? Sure, I know about R. Branson, but I am looking for more holistic (than one person) example.