In the series I wrote last year, I talked about this concept of leading ourselves that I had been coming across in my reading and exploring of leadership skills. It is an idea that has continued to stick with me that is both challenging and encouraging. In leadership, we seek effective influence over those under our leadership. (Whether you hold a titled position, a voluntary position, are a parent or simply have people in your life who look up to you-you are a leader.) What becomes increasingly evident is that the person I most need to influence and the only one that I truly have control over is me!
It starts with self-awareness. Part of leading yourself is getting to know how you operate, what are your strengths, what areas do you need to work on. It isn't about finding areas to criticize yourself about but genuinely evaluating. This allows us to play to our strengths, work in a way that suits us and make a plan to improve in areas that will grow our leadership skills (or find the right team members to delegate to!) Maybe this is the part of leading yourself that you are needing to explore.
Another major area of leading myself that can often be overlooked is taking care of myself. No matter how busy I am, I have to prioritize self-care. I recognise that this is more simple for me with only one child and school hours at my disposal. This has not guaranteed that engage in activities that recharge me though. It is a mindset that all of us need to work on, no matter our circumstances. Self-care can be just as much of an issue for a single person who lives alone as it is a busy mother of four. How do you make time for self-care in your week?
Leading yourself comes down to being just as (or maybe even more) interested in your own development and accountability as you are in the development of people you are in charge of. I'm sure we have all seen leaders who demand so much of their followers and yet never make an effort to work on the areas they need to change. This may even be to the extent of not following their own directives. None of us wants to be that person. It can be so easy to slip into that role. I find this particularly evident in my parenting leadership arena. I expect behaviour from my daughter that I am not willing to work on myself.
The word “intentional” comes up often in my writing. Once more, it applies here. Leading yourself requires intentional reflection on where you are at currently, where you want to be and a plan for how to get there. I highly recommend including trusted friends and mentors in this process. Often others can see things we can't. They may have ideas that you wouldn't have come up with that make all the difference. The journey of leading ourselves will look so different in each case. You never need to compare your journey to someone else's. We need to factor in our current capacity- both time and mental space. We need to consider what will be most beneficial at that time. This is a lifelong process and complete transformation is not achieved overnight.
These are some ideas of what your next step could be:
- Find a reputable personality assessment to learn more about yourself
- Get a mentor
- Listen to a leadership podcast
- Sign up to a leadership conference or other training in an area you want to develop in
- Speak to your inner circle friends and family about what they see in you and give them permission to keep you accountable
- Prioritise self-care
- Make changes to your eating and exercise habits
- Find a book that interests you and make time to read it
- Take action steps to reduce the time you spend on screens
No matter what stage of life you are in and what “level” of leadership you perceive yourself to be at, I encourage you to choose that one next step. It doesn't have to be big to make a difference.
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.
You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.