Ask the question, “What is leadership?” and you will get many answers: moving people toward a goal; helping others see the future; organizing people and resources for a common cause; bringing a picture of the future into view; and so on. Each of these responses is correct, yet each is also different. Nevertheless, they all have a common perspective. They all look from the leader outward—toward the organization, toward people, toward resources, and toward the future. Another thing all the answers have in common is that they all overlook the most important aspect of leadership! The most important aspect of leadership is self-leadership. The perspective of self-leadership is looking inward.
Recently, I’ve had a number of conversations with clients and colleagues about the importance of self-leadership. I’ve also witnessed examples of effective as well as poor self-leadership in action. The impact of good and bad self-leadership is profound, yet most leaders have not consciously considered their own self-leadership. When people ask me what self-leadership is I tell them it is essentially the same as leading others or an organization, but applied to your self. What do you do to lead others and organizations?
You identify talents and assets, and then figure out how to leverage them. You assess people’s emotional and relational health and help them get stronger and healthier. You monitor the environment to help the organization prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. You celebrate successes to encourage people to continue the fight. You envision a better tomorrow and talk about it in detail to build hope.
These are some of the things that leaders do for others and their organization. Are you doing these for yourself?
- Have you identified your talents and assets? Do you know how to leverage these?
- Have you assessed your emotional and relational health? Are you working to be stronger?
- Are you monitoring the environment so that you can be prepared to face challenges?
- Do you celebrate your own hard-earned successes to build courage for the next day?
- Have you created a vivid picture of your future so that you can be hopeful?
Right now, many of you are saying, “Yeah, I kinda do that. I have a good feel for my talents and I know what to do. Yeah, as far as I know, I have good relationships with others. And I have a good feel for where I’m going.”
Let me ask you: Can you “kinda” lead your organization? Is it good enough to have a good feel for people’s talents and the organizational assets? Is it good enough to take a guess at the true state of the organization’s emotional and relational health? Is it good enough to have a good feel for the future of your organization?
No! We know that good leadership requires hard work in each of these areas (and more). Effective leadership demands intentionality, specificity, perseverance, excellence, and courage. Leadership without these is doomed to failure.
Self-leadership without intentionality, specificity, perseverance, and courage is doomed to mediocrity.
I have seen a few models of self-leadership, but I would love to hear from you. What does self-leadership meant to you? How do you go providing leadership to yourself (or at least try to)? What gets in the way of being a good self-leader?
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.