Leadership starts with Self Leadership

When we think of a leader, we often think of someone confident and sure of themselves. However, good leadership starts with self-leadership. Self-leadership is the ability to lead yourself to achieve personal and professional goals and objectives. Forbes.com article states that there are two reasons leaders fail. 

  1. They failed in relationships.
  2. They fail to learn continually.

Ongoing leadership success is determined by one’s ability to develop self-leadership skills which provide the tools to help leaders better navigate essential situations. Our successes or setbacks are directly tied to how we engage with challenging situations. 

5 ways to improve self-leadership:

  • Feel your feelings.
    • Feelings matter. Do not label your feelings as good or bad when you feel guilt, happiness, sadness, or excitement. It is okay to admit you are angry. Understanding what is causing your feelings can allow you to react appropriately. Your emotions are great educators. For example, When I get annoyed quickly, it is a sign that I am tired and need to recharge.
  • Seek Feedback
    • There is much truth to the old saying, “it takes a village.” Knowing yourself is something you cannot achieve on your own. It would be best if you had the perspectives of others to get a clear picture. Seeing yourself through others’ eyes helps you gain valuable insight into how your emotions, communication style, and manners affect others.
    • For example, I know I am the hardest on myself (like most people). When I put myself down, a trusted friend said: “I do not see you that way .”What I see as my flaws, they see differently. For example, in my early 20s, I was overweight and had low self-esteem. I always felt that my sisters were skinny and prettier. One friend. A former dancer whom I secretly admired told me that she never noticed the weight on me and that she honestly thought I was “the pretty sister.” I recall reflecting on her comment, and it made me realize that others do not see things the way we do. Seeking feedback from others does not mean you are stroking your ego and searching for praise and compliments. When you humbly seek feedback from trusted friends and mentors, do so with the mindset of improvement. It is a very revealing experience to get positive and negative feedback. If the feedback is negative, find ways to improve.
  • Know your Strengths and Weakness
    • Feedback is only valuable if you act on it. Once you understand how others perceive you, put the information to good use. For example, if others view you as abrasive, find ways to soften your delivery. If they say you do not listen, work on becoming a better listener. Do you criticize more than you give praise? This is your opportunity to strengthen a weakness, but it will take effort.
  • Practice Mindfulness
    • Our body language sends messages without us saying a word. Your feelings are communicated through your demeanor, chosen words, and tone of voice. For example, I was always in trouble with my mom as a teenager. She always seemed to know my thoughts without me saying a word. Finally, a relative told me that I had the most expressive eyes and that people read every emotion I had by watching my eyes. Do you offer to help someone with your arms crossed? Do you check your cell phone during a conversation?
  • Keep an open mind.
    • Good leaders are curious and are open to new ways of doing things. Welcoming alternative viewpoints and ideas fosters growth and development while making others feel supported and accepted.

 “Being a self-leader is to serve as chief, captain, or CEO of one’s own life.” Peter Drucker

Cheryl Viola, Executive Director & CEO, MBA, Doctoral Candidate – Organizational Leadership