What Should Always Come before Leadership
Before you earn the right to lead others, you must first be able to lead yourself. Nobody wants to follow someone who hasn’t demonstrated the discipline and skills to be personally successful. How can that person help others be more successful?
Self-leadership is the first step toward leading others.
What is Self-Leadership?
Self-leadership is the art of taking responsibility for your own life and making conscious choices that align with your values, passions, and goals. It involves becoming the captain of your own ship and being able to create the life you desire. Self-leadership is about recognizing that you have the power to shape your destiny, regardless of external circumstances.
Why is Self-Leadership Important?
Self-leadership empowers you to live a life of purpose, authenticity, and personal fulfillment. Importantly, it gives you credibility. If you are the kind of person others admire and respect, they will be influenced by your example, and ultimately leadership is positive influence.
Self-leadership enhances your decision-making abilities, increases your resilience, and develops a sense of control over your life. It is the key to unlocking your true potential and creating a life that reflects your deepest aspirations and positively impacts others.
Here are some of the key skills that create self-leadership:
Self-Awareness: Start by understanding yourself on a deeper level. Reflect on your values, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. As Socrates said, know thyself. Identify your purpose and the legacy you want to leave. Self-awareness forms the foundation of self-leadership, giving insight into your true self.
Goal Orientation: Establishing clear, meaningful goals provides direction and purpose. Define what success means to you in different areas of your life—career, relationships, health, personal growth—and set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals to guide your actions. Regularly review and adjust your goals as you progress.
Personal responsibility: Take responsibility and see yourself as the CEO of your life. This includes responsibility for your choices, actions, reactions and outcomes. Avoid blaming others or external circumstances when things go wrong. Instead, focus on what you can control and how you can learn from challenges.
Self-Discipline: Develop the discipline to consistently take actions that align with your goals and values. This means prioritizing tasks, managing your time effectively, and staying committed even when faced with distractions or setbacks. Practice self-control, building habits that support your growth and progress.
Continuous Learning: Adopt a growth mindset and commit to lifelong learning. You choose to keep learning and growing. Seek out new experiences, acquire new skills, and challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Stay curious, open-minded, and adaptable in the face of change.
A Supportive Network: Surround yourself with individuals who inspire and challenge you to be your best self. Seek mentors and role models who embody the qualities and values you admire. Engage in communities that provide support, accountability, and opportunities for collaboration and growth.
Self-Care: Prioritize self-care to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Make time for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Nurture your mind and body through activities such as exercise, reflection, hobbies, and spending time in nature. Remember that self-leadership requires a solid foundation of self-care. Building inner and outer strength and resilience is essential.
Self-leadership is the foundation upon which you build a life of purpose and qualify as someone worth following and learning from. It allows you to influence not only what happens, but to respond successfully to those things in life you don’t control. And it is the first necessary step to leading others.
Mark Sanborn is an inspiring leadership keynote speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. His teaches leaders and teams how to be extraordinary. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com.