Maria Connolly, LPC

What Is Self-Leadership? It’s Something Everyone Can Do!

We are all self-leaders. Some people seem to be born with a measure of this ability; others work to develop it; while others do not yet recognize this about themselves. “You get the best out of others when you get the best out of yourself.” ~ Harvey Firestone

You may have noticed that my new website design features the theme of self-leadership and many of the graphics center around sailing. Some of my clients have been curious about this shift and what exactly do I mean by self-leadership. Wouldn’t you agree that we cannot successfully lead another person before we first lead ourselves? This helps give us the answer to the question:

What is Self-Leadership?

In a nutshell, self-leadership is fully developing your sense of who you are, what you’re capable of doing, and where you are going, as you intentionally and mindfully influence your own communication, emotions and behaviors along the way.

Sailing a ship is a good analogy for self-leadership. If you just drift, you won’t land where you wish and you’re at risk of capsizing when turbulence strikes. On the other hand, when you have a clear destination, you can use all your resources — knowledge, perseverance, resilience, endurance, strengths, even the winds of adversity and prevailing currents — to help you arrive safely.

It seems Charles Manz first used the term ‘Self-leadership’ in 1983 and defined it as; “a comprehensive self-influence perspective that concerns leading oneself”. However, this self-leadership concept is not new. Philosophers have long taught that power comes from mastering self before trying to master others.

We are all self-leaders. Some people seem to be born with a measure of this ability; others work to develop it; while others do not yet recognize this about themselves. In every case, we can all become better at leading ourselves.  

Self-leadership is about constantly developing your ‘inner game’ towards achieving personal mastery. This includes setting intentions, and developing deeper self-awareness, self-confidence and self-love.

Within the four pillars that I believe self-leadership is built upon: 1) Physical Well-being; 2) Mental Strength; 3) Social & Emotional Balance; and 4) Spiritual Health. There are five activities that, if consistently applied, will energize and accelerate your self-leadership abilities. They are…

1. Be a life-long learner.  Develop your curiosity and love of learning. Even if you hate to read or study, you can use alternative, tech methods to deepen your ability to ask questions and seek answers, to wonder at the world around you and look for what makes it tick. Surround yourself with learning enthusiasts and let them rub off on you.

2. Know your purpose and set clear objectives/desired outcomes.

Once you’ve identified your big dreams and vision for your life, it’s important to continually track and monitor your progress toward achieving them. Since life is a journey, each step is never a failure. It’s simply an indicator that you can correct your course and get back on track.

3. Get focused. This doesn’t mean you become obsessive or develop tunnel vision. It means saying “YES” to what brings the results you desire and saying “NO” to that which doesn’t.

4. Develop greater interdependence. Trying to control everything is exhausting and unproductive. Know your strengths and work to them. Delegate everything else to someone more skilled in those areas.

5. Strengthen self-discipline. Schedule blocks of time for relaxation, creative pursuits, business work and family time. Don’t leave any of these to chance. Intentionally renewing yourself strengthens you so you can give more to others.

As John Wooden said, “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” What example have you set for yourself this last week, month or year? Would you like to explore what it means to be a self-leader in more detail? Our 3rd annual Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat is designed to help you do just that! If you want to get started today, I’d love to partner with you, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

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