We all do lead something or somebody, at least we lead ourselves! But what is self-leadership in the first place? And do we pay enough attention to this element of leadership?
Self-leadership has various aspects. Most of the time, we put a lot of – perhaps too much – focus on the area of self-management, often with the aim of cramming even more things into one single day, completing more tasks in the same amount of time, and becoming effective in additional areas of work and life.
This leads, quite frequently, to us apparently doing more, but in doing so, we put ourselves under more stress and things no longer make any fun. And there is also a chance that the outcomes we achieve will not be as good as before (when we used to do less of everything).
Although most of us know that multitasking slows us down and makes us lose focus, we do it every single day. We really struggle not to revert back to multitasking, because it seems that everyone around us is able to keep several balls up in the air at the same time.
This is where the first step of self-leadership begins: making yourself independent from others, and listening to and looking at yourself. What do I want to do now? How much can I manage to do?
Needless to say, self-leadership also involves accepting feedback from others and getting an idea of the expectations of the people around me. However, that does not mean to stop doing what has yet to be finished and jump onto something new, but to evaluate and decide what should be done now and what is important now. A substantial aspect of self-leadership is not to revert to automatisms!
This clearly shows that – to be able to be good in self-leadership – you need time periods where you do not feel stressed out and where you have full access to your own judgment and intellectual power.
To me, self-leadership means above all making conscious decisions and acting based on awareness.
To ensure this, we should, amongst others,
- find out, and review over and over again, for what or whom we want to devote our time
- make ourselves aware of what we like and what is a negative trigger for us
- understand what motivates us and what our core beliefs are
- know what we want to achieve
- reflect whether what we do – in private settings or at work – fills us with joy, helps us reach our goals, and is in line with our values
- understand what impact we have on others and how others perceive us
- receive feedback from the communities we live in and make conscious decisions which feedback we want to accept and which not
- practice self-care with regard to your own resilience and, in that context, learn to say “No”
- ensure to pay attention to our own physical, emotional and psychological symptoms
- understand what we need in order to recharge our batteries, and create space for this purpose
In a nutshell: In terms of good self-leadership, if you want to bring your own actions and behaviors in line with your personal values and goals, you need to ensure that you know yourself, are able to perceive your feelings and emotions, as well as understand yourself in the interaction with your personal environment. This is all worth it because anyone who wants to lead employees must be able to lead and manage himself or herself for a start.
This text first appeared in my newsletter 'Innovation on Wednesday'. It is published every other Wednesday. For subscription click here