Self-leadership is, at its simplest, the ability to influence yourself to achieve your objectives. However, since writing the book Self Leadership with Dr. Ana Kazan (McGraw-Hill 2012), I have come to realise that there are multiple self-leadership actions and applications.
Self-leadership in Action
1. Authenticity Authenticity is a leadership requirement and a powerful factor when it comes to building trust. Self-leadership explains how you can develop your authenticity. When you are authentic, you are the author of your own life; this means you know what’s important to you (values) and what you want to achieve (intentions) and you make choices in alignment with your values and intentions. Because the self-leader is aware of what’s important to them, and has healthy self-esteem and confidence, they can speak up.
2. Speaking Up Having a voice and visibility makes a huge difference to your effectiveness and career prospects. Self-leadership allows you to speak up because it clearly defines your personal responsibility in regards to your own thinking, feeling, speech and actions. The self-leader takes responsibility over what they say and how they say it, and what they do and how they do it.
3. Personal Mastery With self-awareness of values and intention, and responsibility over speech and actions, the self-leader is motivated to achieve the goals they set. This personal mastery and accountability is achieved through focusing on activities that matter, and saying “NO!” to distractions. Self-leadership helps you identify the cues that put you into a focused and productive state and those that rob your of your states of motivation and flow. Self-leadership is about knowing your strengths and playing to these so that you build competency in your chosen endeavors.
4. Executive Presence With personal mastery and being consistent about doing what you say and do (authenticity + speaking up), you will radiate what is today called ‘executive presence’. In the time of Aristotle, this would be called ‘ethos’ or ‘character’. The quantity and quality of your presence allows you to influence with and without authority.
5. Influence Getting a willing “Yes” from your requests is the substance of influence. Research has shown that we are most likely to say yes to people who have credibility (executive presence) and are competent at what they do (personal mastery). In addition to credibility, we are also more likely to say “Yes” to people we like and trust. Because the self-leader is authentic, they are likely to score high on likeability and trust.
6. Humility Self-leadership is not selfish or arrogant. The self-leader has an accurate, not over- or under-estimated view of their own abilities. As such they recognise the need to collaborate with others who compliment their strengths. With this high level of self-awareness, the self-leader is open to multiple perspectives because of the realisation of their own bias and singular viewpoints. Self-leaders, therefore, work well in teams.
So in summary, self-leadership is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, and where you are going, coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviours on the way to getting there.
Self-leadership is a process. It’s something we do every day. Over time, it become a natural habit. But everybody has a ‘moment’ when they lose it. The self-leader accepts that this is normal and, without self-criticism, resets their commitment and continues with the practice.
If you would like to know more about self-leadership, check out our self-leadership workshops at www.selfleadership.com