Why the first person you must lead is yourself

No matter how naturally gifted you are as a leader if you fail to lead yourself well, your leadership will be limited.

First published on CEOWorld Magazine on 24 January 2019.

Some people almost fall into leadership due to their charisma. They are good at connecting with people. They are confident in themselves. They look good. People notice them and look to them. However, those working closely with them find them frustrating and difficult to work with because they have never learned to lead themselves well.

Others, like former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, are extremely driven and have huge ambitions. However, their character weaknesses and insecurities start to cause problems the higher up the ladder they rise.

Their insecurity may manifest in annoying micromanagement, or an explosive temper when things go wrong, or a variety of power plays with colleagues. Their poor self-leadership becomes a major issue that makes them extremely difficult to work with, and undermines their success.

Ultimately, if you fail to lead yourself well, at some point, you will forfeit the right to lead others. ‘Three strikes and you’re out’ is about right, in terms of describing the way leaders can lose trust and influence with their team. Once respect is gone leadership is reduced to a position with little real influence.

Poor self-leadership usually emanates from:

  • InsecurityTrying to please everyone, inability to say ‘No’, unclear boundaries, a need to be in control or needed.
  • Weak characterIndiscipline, laziness, a short-cut mentality, poor anger management, moodiness.
  • Poor organisationUnstructured thinking, inadequate systems, poor planning and follow through.

The talented person who can be a bit muddle-headed and disorganised is a whole lot easier to deal with than the insecure leader who has significant character flaws. This is why addressing poor self-leadership starts with working on developing healthy self-respect and not a time management course.

Unless you work on yourself and deal with your insecurities, you will always struggle to lead yourself well, especially under pressure. Secure leaders learn to set and live with clear boundaries. Effective leaders keep working on their personal growth, developing disciplines and strength of character.

When difficulties and conflicts arise, it is vital that a leader has learned ways to lead themselves under pressure, so they can manage their energy and focus their mind on what is important.

Click here to read the full article including the aIndicators of poor self-leadership.

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