Leading Self – “Whom Do I Lead? – Part I”
John Maxwell has noted that one of the most important things you can do, as a leader, is to learn to lead yourself. As we continue to look at the answer to the previous question “Who Do I Lead”, I suggest that the first, most simple answer is, …you. Maxwell created the “Mirror Principle” to emphasize his point – “the first person we must examine is ourselves”. So what is this and what does it look like?
Leading self includes being accountable and responsible. Knowing and accepting your organization’s structure and chain of command represents self-discipline and the understanding that your behavior has an impact on others and the organization. Leaders, positional or otherwise, take responsibility for that which is theirs by owning it, all the time, and under every circumstance (meaning success or failure). Leaders are accountable for being effective organizers and establishing priorities.
Another aspect of leading self is to be a good follower. Every leader is also a follower themselves – they look to leaders for guidance and feedback and expect to be challenged to both learn and develop their competencies. Good leaders choose their own leaders and mentors very carefully to ensure they are getting the right message and not the words they would like to hear.
Leaders are self-objective. Leading yourself requires self-awareness. They are competent in turning a critical eye upon themself and being honest when they “look in the mirror”. They continually identify areas for improvement and understand and grasp the impact of their behavior on others. They understand that leadership and professional development is a career and not a week of focused.reading.
Leaders who lead themselves will align their personal values with organizational values and act to reconcile any differences.They accept the core values of their organization or profession, can communicate them to peers and subordinates and use them to guide performance, conduct and decisions – daily.
Self-leading leaders assimilate health and well-being with career and acknowledge the link between their performance and their health. They are ready when needed and disciplined to remain that way at all times.
Lastly, leaders ensure that their technical skills remain at the highest level and are continually reviewed and refreshed. Leaders recognize that they must feed not only the soul but the hands as well of their peers and subordinates and seek to maintain their own sharp professional edge.