You Must Lead Yourself First

Self-leadership is a topic that often generates confusion. I’m told it’s a contradiction of terms, an oxymoron, we must have followers to be a leader. Not so.

Leadership beings with the self, to lead others you must lead yourself first.

Think about the expectations we have of others when we are leading them. We share a number of principles and behaviours that are key to growing and developing leadership skills. The question is, do we follow those principles ourselves?

It has been suggested that a good way to view self-leadership is to see yourself as your number one, most important and even most difficult, follower. You are the person who must exemplify the characteristics of the leadership model you are teaching others.

Ask yourself; do you follow the leadership guidelines you are setting for others to follow? Do you lead by example?

If you are not, then you are going to struggle to be a truly effective leader.

To be viewed as a great leader, you need to ‘walk your talk’. You need to be consistent in your commitment to building your own leadership goals and following through. Let others see that professional development is important for you personally, not only something you ask of them.

When a leader shows true authenticity and integrity they are soon followed by committed, loyal staff members.

So how do we apply self-leadership? It has to begin with self-awareness. You need full awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses. You cannot address what you don’t acknowledge.

Self-awareness gives you an insight into what you are capable of. Your confidence in your abilities shines through, you have no doubts that you can have a positive influence.

As Warren Bennis says, “You can’t be a leader until you know who you are; it’s as simple as that."

How self-aware are you? Answer the following questions honestly.

1. Do you know exactly what you believe in?

2. Do you know where are you going with your business?

3. Can you identify your own strengths and weaknesses?

4. What do you think makes you a good leader?

5. Can you identify areas of personal growth you need to address?

6. Are you prepared to address any issues you have identified in your previous answers?

If you want to know just how self-aware you are, take your answers to someone who knows you well and see if they agree. The feedback will be enlightening.

Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself” Thomas J Watson


Alison Vidotto is the award winning author of 22 Leadership Fundamentals; the Door to Success says Push! A leadership keynote speaker and trainer, CEO of Vidotto Group and Founder of the Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam ( Alison has a passion for leadership and development, both within herself and in others. She writes leadership articles for the Australian Business Women's Network ( Alison has also been published in the...

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