When we think of leadership, we tend to think of being led or leading others. But I recently read up on the idea of self-leadership, which is a leader being self-aware, having emotional intelligence, and practicing self-control. Great leaders have all three of these characteristics. Of course, it is possible to be a leader who has only one or two of these characteristics (or even none), but great leaders display all three.
I recently worked for a boss who was very self-aware about her lack of emotional intelligence. On my first day of work, she told me that she “barked” at people when she was frustrated, annoyed, or stressed out. (I saw this was true very soon after I began working there.) However, over three years working with her, I also noticed that she lacked the self-control to improve this immaturity about herself. Being self-aware is great, but if it is not coupled with emotional intelligence and self-control, it hinders a leader’s ability to lead effectively.
Where do you begin with self-leadership? Here are a few ways you can begin to show self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and self-control in your daily interactions:
- Figure out who you are. What motivates you to make decisions? How do you communicate and how does it affect those around you? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? You can go further by knowing yourself inside and out. How can you do this? Discover your gifts. Take a leadership style assessment like the DISC™ profile or StrengthsFinder. Hire a leadership or life coach to help you discover more about yourself.
- Ask yourself the hard questions. How do you handle conflict? Do you speak up in confrontational situations or do you hold it in until you explode? What do you do when faced with stress? Do you gossip behind others’ backs? Do you speak truth to others harshly or tactfully? Are you constantly trying to grow or are you avoiding growth and change? These answers will help you find where your emotional intelligence is strong and where you need further development.
- Do the right thing. Do you know what to do and when to do it, as well as what not to do and when not to do it? Are you disciplined enough to make the right decisions during crunch time? Do you model integrity as a leader? Are you the same person in front of others that you are when you are alone? Share these answers with a trusted friend. Then decide to improve in specific areas and let your friend hold you accountable to make those changes.
Self-leadership cannot take place in isolation. In order to grow, we need to experience community! Discuss these questions with your family, friends, colleagues, and even those you lead. Their feedback can help you become the leader God wants you to be.
Would you like to explore more about self as leader? Click “Contact Me” at the top of this page and fill out the contact form. I’d love to have a free discovery call with you.