Sometimes people are a little confused when I suggest that they focus on self-leadership first. They tell me that self-leadership sounds a little strange, “Isn’t leadership all about followers?”
In a word, no. The answer is clear: to lead others, you must first lead yourself.
If you are to have influence over others then you must have influence over yourself. Think about leadership, think of all of the behavioural management strategies utilised to lead others, and think of yourself as the follower. Are you following the leadership rules and guidelines that you would like to set for others? Are you a walking example of leadership? To be an effective leader, you need to be.
“Don’t just talk to others about setting goals, personal and professional development, motivation, commitment, implementation and positive thinking. Make sure that you are doing them yourself first. Implement those strategies personally. Walk your talk.”
When you lead yourself and live with honesty, integrity and credibility, the followers soon appear. You can’t lead others effectively if you don’t have self-awareness, self-belief and strong values.
Leaders have the innate belief that they can positively influence others and that belief comes from achievements.
Who wants to follow someone who looks a mess, never completes what they start, always has a ready excuse or blames others? Authentic leaders know themselves well, they conduct themselves and their own lives well. This self-leadership contributes to them having the ability to lead others effectively.
As Warren Bennis says, “You can’t be a leader until you know who you are; it’s as simple as that.” A quick practical self-leadership exercise that has the potential to identify your current strengths, weaknesses and areas in need of improvement, but only if you answer honestly.
Take a good hard look at yourself and answer the following questions:
- What do I believe in?
- Where am I going?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What qualifies me to lead?
- What can I do to make the situation better?
- Are there any areas I am currently avoiding making decisions about?
- How soon can I take action to rectify, improve or resolve anything I have identified in my responses?
This exercise is even more powerful if you can then ask someone who knows you well to answer the same questions on your behalf.
“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” — Thomas J Watson