Keys to Self Leadership (4) – Know Your Core Values, Roles and Priorities

In this article we are looking at three more keys to self leadership: Knowing your core values, roles and priorities. These  are all interlinked and can be taken together as a group. These three keys to self leadership must be understood and integrated in your life or you will experience significant inner conflict.

Keys to Self Leadership

Know your Core Values – these are those deeply held convictions about yourself, people and the world around you, which if you compromised you would struggle to respect yourself. See my article on How to Discover Your Core Values. In order to know your core values you need to know yourself well. What is really important to you will emerge.

Know Your Roles – these are the key roles you play in life. If your values are clear, then it will be much easier to know what you are called to do and what you are NOT supposed to do with your life. You have a few roles for which you must accept responsibility and then a whole range of options.

Before you even get out the door to perform any roles outside the home, you have several roles to consider which are the ones most often neglected:

  1. Your first role in life must be to look after yourself. If you do not get enough food and drink, sleep and exercise you will not be able to perform any other role well. If you do not keep learning and growing by educating yourself, and then making sure you take time to replenish yourself, you will eventually struggle.
  2. Your second role ideally will be to your spouse
  3. Your third will be as parent to your children.
  4. After that, you will have work, wider family, friendship roles, sports teams, community involvement, and so the list could go on.

In my view the optimum number of roles any one person can manage well is six. If you have enlarged capacity and a great support network then you may be able to perform more than six roles well. If not, then six is the optimum for most of us.

NB. You need to factor in that a very demanding job, or caring for a disabled child, or starting a small business, or the like – that role is equivalent to 2 or 3 roles.

I’ve observed that people who take on extra roles out of duty, guilt or ego are almost always headed for grief. By saying ‘yes’ to more roles the chances are you will be saying ‘no’ to yourself and the ones you love most.

Keys to Self Leadership

Know Your Roles

Know Your Priorities and DO them – If you have clearly defined core values and know your roles in life, then your priorities will be much easier to know. All you do is set goals around each of your roles in life so these most important things are being advanced and plan your schedule accordingly. If anything else comes up that you are asked to do or invited to be involved in, then you have a clear framework to enable you to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

The challenge remains for all of us to say ‘no’ to those things that are not a priority and are usually a waste of time and energy. So many people struggle with this. They somehow feel like they are missing out if they say ‘no’. More importantly, your will never fulfil your purpose if you say, ‘yes’.

This principle works in your day to day work life. Know the main things you need to do as part of your role. Delegate everything else where possible. Then rather than try to tick off your ‘To Do List’, it is better to know, focus on and DO your priorities. That way if you run out of time at least the main things are done.


Knowing your core values, roles and priorities are critical keys to self leadership. The degree to which we live these three is the degree to which we allow our character to develop.

If you have the courage to push through the fears of missing out and will discipline yourself to doing your priorities, you will start to build an amazing life. You will become someone who is able to do what you say you will do. You will be someone who can fulfil commitments and be true to your word. This contributes to your strength of character. As you learn these keys to self leadership you set yourself apart as one who is ready to cope with the responsibility of leading others in a team or an organisation.

INTEGRATE: Why Work Life Balance is a Myth | John Drury

Integrate: Why Work Life Balance is a Myth and what you really need to create a fulfilling lifestyle

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