Why is Self-Leadership important?

A famous saying goes: "You can't love someone else until you love yourself." It turns out the same is true about leadership. It's challenging to lead other people if you can't be a leader to yourself. 

What does this mean exactly? 

I like to turn to John C. Maxwell's 5 Levels of Leadership to understand this. The bottom level is where people follow you because they must, like in a military hierarchy. But at the top level, people follow you because they connect emotionally to what you bring. They follow you for who you are and what you stand for. People need a purpose and to feel engaged, and they follow you because of who you are and what you stand for. You behave and act in line with your values and vision, which resonates with your followers.

But to get to this, you first need self-leadership. Let's look at what it is and how you can develop this trait. 


What Is Self-Leadership?

At its most basic, self-leadership means understanding who you are, what you stand for, having a vision, and intentionally guiding yourself toward them. It encompasses what we do, why, and how we do it. It's also the process of influencing yourself to establish the direction and motivation required to achieve your goals. Think of it as the art of developing a long-term vision and then turning that into reality by taking the initiative and working on yourself in a structured, organized, and mindful way.


How to Develop Self-Leadership

As with many things in leadership, developing your self-leadership starts with having a crystal-clear vision of the future. Where do you see yourself in 20-30 years? Or in 10 years? 

Next, think about what you need to do to achieve your vision. These should be broader stroke steps rather than minute details. From there, you can cascade that into a one-year plan, a monthly plan, and even a weekly plan that contains the actions you need to take towards your vision. 

Another element to develop is emotional intelligence and empathy, which starts with self-awareness of your emotions and understanding their triggers. Eventually, your self-awareness will extend into self-management, allowing you to control emotions in challenging situations better. 

Developing empathy requires active listening, engaging in conversations with people by asking them questions, and paying attention to non-verbal communication. Additionally, it's a good time to start recognizing and questioning your biases to be more objective about yourself and your worldview. 

Lastly, it's also essential to manage stress effectively to avoid burnout. This includes strengthening your four batteries: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. I consider these the pillars of good mental health, a crucial part of (self-)leadership!


How Do You Know You've Developed Self-Leadership?

First, it's important to note that this is an ongoing process without a definitive end. You should never stop learning or developing. 

But once you've been practising the approaches that lead to self-leadership, you'll probably notice that you feel in control of your destiny, maybe more than previously. This is because you are working towards your vision, which aligns with your values, and thus, working towards your vision will generate satisfaction. You'll also feel more comfortable and confident because you know who you are and what you represent and have a clear image of who you want to be. People will likely notice you are confident, authentic, and hopefully inspirational! 


Need help developing the skills that lead to self-leadership? I'm here to help! Book a coaching session to discuss your particular challenges and how you might be able to apply the theories discussed above to overcome them. 

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