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.”

Painful clarity:

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:

  1. Openness to feedback.
  2. Grit when progress is slow.
  3. Curiosity when corrected.
  4. Going the extra mile.
  5. Initiative.
  6. Flexibility.
  7. Collaboration.

Self-leaders don’t exempt themselves. Take collaboration for example. Do you make decisions in isolation and expect collaboration from others?

  1. Do you expect trust from others? Trust yourself. In addition, trust others.
  2. Do you expect others to show up for meetings on time and prepared? Show up prepared and on time.
  3. Do you expect openness to your feedback? Seek feedback yourself. 
  4. 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.

  1. When are you at your best?
  2. What elevates your energy?
  3. What drains energy?
  4. 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?