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When the First Person You Must Lead Well is Yourself

No matter how naturally gifted you are as a leader if you fail to lead yourself well your leadership will be limited. 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 PM 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 micromanaging, 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:
  • Insecurity trying to please everyone, struggle to say No, unclear boundaries, a need to be in control or needed.
  • Weak character indiscipline, laziness, a short-cut mentality, poor anger management, moodiness
  • Poor organisation unstructured mind, 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 really important.   Indicators of Poor Self-Leadership:
  • Fail to discern the important from the urgent
  • Try to please everyone and usually end up frustrating everyone
  • Struggle to say, No!
  • Constant interruptions - an open-door policy, email alerts on, always answer phone.
  • Need to work back late because always too much to do
  • Tend to run late, thinking they can fit one more thing in before that meeting
  • Make a lot of decisions on the run because you avoid investing time for planning
  • New shiny thing syndrome lots of new ideas, often change your mind
  • Poor daily routines
  When the First Person You Lead Well is Yourself: 
  • You are outcome focused rather than input driven
  • You are proactive rather than reactive
  • People find it easy to work with you because you have clear plans
  • You communicate consistently and clearly
  • Your actions back up your words
  • You put into place self-care strategies that enable you to have energy when required even under extreme pressure
  • You find it easy to earn respect from your team
  • You are secure, and empower team members to do their roles
Once you have reached a certain level of technical skill within your industry the main issue that will determine how far you rise in leadership roles will be related to how well you lead yourself.   This article was written by John Drury, Business Mentor. John works with busy high achievers (business owners and corporate executives) to assist them achieve sustainable business success AND create a great lifestyle for themselves and their family.  John is also a keynote speaker, and author of 'INTEGRATE - Why work-life balance is a myth and what you really need to create a fulfilling lifestyle'. Listen to our Podcast with John Drury titled 'Confessions of a High Achiever'.

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