Self-leadership receives decent attention, as it should. Leadership does begin from within and then is exemplified through collaborative relationships, interactions, and work. Faisal Hoque in a Fast Company article highlights many essential ways to improve and become a more authentic leader. Many other good articles can be found through various searches.
So why write another article? Two reasons. First, self-leadership is vital to empowering positive leadership capabilities. Second, there is a rule and a law often overlooked when it comes to self-leadership. The rule and law are:
The Golden Rule of Self-Leadership: What you do for others you should do for yourself.
The Self-Control Law: Control yourself first before others.
All the other self-leadership suggestions and practices are valid. Without this rule and law, many self-leadership activities will be wasted and ineffective. Leaders need to abide by this self-leadership rule and law to make their self-leadership practices work.
The Golden Rule of Self-Leadership
We know the Golden Rule as a respectful practice of treating others the way we want to be treated. In self-leadership, a corollary exists – what you do for others you should do for yourself. Here is what I mean.
As good leaders, we encourage team members to take vacations, unplug, spend time with their family, and give back to their community. We do this but then we do not do the same. Too many leaders are forgoing activities that embrace a complete life. Work becomes the dominate force and energy suffers. More than this, the very teams being encouraged to adopt these healthy practices suffer from your drained leadership.
Giving to others needs to come from a source of where you give to yourself. I am not talking about material giving. I am talking about soul, mind, and body giving. Self-care matters. Self-care sparks leaders to be better humans first. Self-care needs to come from a giving heart. From here, much goodness radiates from within and all around to and for others.
The Golden Rule of Self-Leadership is not self-centeredness. The Golden Rule of Self-Leadership is about self-care. Healthy habits create healthy leaders. Healthy habits boomerang. What is given needs to come back, be practiced, and then given outward again. This is healthy self-leadership.
The Leadership Self-Control Rule
Leaders that cannot control themselves control others. Really think about this. We know this to be true. Leaders who cannot control themselves dominate conversations. Leaders who cannot control themselves hold others back and push others down. Leaders who cannot control themselves must always be right. The list can easily be added to but you know what I am talking about.
Maybe their intent is not bad but their actions send the message that nothing really works unless I am involved and I am leading it forward. Within their mind and soul, they may believe they have the answer to every question and the solution to every problem. This may be true some of the time but it rarely will be true all of the time.
Good self-leadership skills embrace self-control. Maybe all leaders have the gene within that tells them they know it all. However, good leaders know this is not really true and they practice effective self-control to keep their inclinations and go-to actions in check.
- Letting others take the lead
- Listening proactively
- Providing a vision and then letting others engage to make it happen
- Delivering a framework when needed but empowering others to use their creativity
- Building a platform of freedom to act while giving the authority to act and the accountability to match
Good leaders suppress the urge to always control. When self-control reigns, others will follow your lead. When self-control reigns, control will shift to a broader set of leaders, meaning each will contribute more and the organization will act in a way to better control its destiny.
When a larger group of effective leaders unleash their talents, the organization has more control in maneuvering within their changing markets and competitive landscapes. This is the win-win a leader can create when effective self-control is practiced.
The Cost of Ineffective Self-Leadership
When ineffective self-leadership is practiced, many suffer. Relationships begin to spin downward. Purpose becomes blurred. Organizational politics rise. Time is wasted.
More than all this, a leader becomes a side-show rather than an empowering act to follow. We live in a time when the distractions seem countless and the challenges seem endless. Good self-leadership practices can create the environment of clarity, responsibility, engagement, and collaboration. Using the Golden Rule of Self-Leadership and the Self-Control Law will enable leaders to be more effective in their work, more enabling in their organizations, and more trusted in their communities.
The most important difference steadfast self-leadership makes is a more fulfilled life at home, work, and play. Engage the self-leadership golden rule. Abide by the self-leadership law. Practice meaningful, accountable self-leadership.