I realised that I had started in the wrong place, where most people start, leading others. In fact, what I now know is that I should have begun by leading myself.
For many years I tried to build confidence in myself as a leader, I had worked on leadership skills attended courses and read books. I made progress but didn’t build confidence.
If you think it’s important for your team members to show up at their best each day then shouldn’t you have a plan for showing up at your best? This is self-leadership.
“Exceptional leaders distinguish themselves because of superior self-leadership.” – Daniel Goleman
So what exactly are we talking about here?
There are 4 elements to self-leadership:
- Other awareness
- Other management
This means to be a good Self Leader you must understand and be conscious of your own values, needs strengths and weaknesses. You must also harness these to make the best decisions for your organisation. You must have the ability to recognise this in others and work with them to enhance their strengths and help them grow to help meet the organisations’ goals.
That’s all well and good in theory but how can you implement it in practice. Here is the approach that I have taken. It has helped me develop as a leader both in ability and confidence.
I boil it down to showing up at my best for the business each day. I believe that each day if I am conscious of the vision for the business, my mindset is positive and focused, and my energy levels are high – I am only then, showing up at my best. This requires a certain level of discipline but makes a massive impact on how I operate and how I lead. Let’s break it down a little.
Without a clear vision for the business, nobody is going anywhere fast. But even with a clear vision, it is crucial that you are conscious of it every day and that all decisions are directed by that clear vision.
“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore M. Hesburgh
First, build your vision with your team by going through a structured process (this sometimes requires outside help).
Second, communicate it to yourself and to your team day after day, after day, after day…..after day. Then start again.
You probably know you already have a mindset. What you may not know is that it doesn’t need to be fixed. We listen to the stories that our mindset tells us every day, I am disorganised, I am not good with excel, I am great at sales, I can’t motivate my team.
These things are true because our mindset says so. If your mindset says the opposite that can also be true. This realisation has had the single biggest impact on me as a leader and as a human!
It is difficult to leverage the other two elements without a high level of both physical and mental energy. Gathering that energy is not actually that difficult. Our brain uses 20% of our fuel so we need to look after it by fuelling properly. We need to eat well and often. We need to hydrate way more than we do today (studies show that 75% of Americans may be chronically dehydrated leading to a substantial reduction in mental capacity). Exercise also has a major impact on energy.
There is one more element that I have learned is critical to maintaining the first three. That’s accountability. It is quite difficult to maintain a conscious focus on vision, positive mindset and high energy level every day without it.
Understanding that I should to lead myself first and identifying the 4 elements that need to be worked on daily has been a game changer for me personally and for hundreds of people, I have worked with around the world on this. I developed the Game Changer Formula for predictable success from this work which is:
Over the next few weeks, I will go through Vision, Mindset, Energy and Accountability and explain a simple 10 step daily routine that ensures anyone can become a top-class self leader within a few days.
Don’t make my mistake. Start in the correct place – Lead yourself first.