I’ve been writing quite a bit on the importance of leading yourself first. I believe it’s important – even foundational – as a prerequisite to the effort and energy we use trying to lead others. But it’s not all about “me.” In fact, the motivation to lead yourself first finds its greatest meaning and significance when its about serving others.
If all we focus on is trying to create a better version of ourselves – if that becomes the end of all of our means – we will find the effort less rewarding. Individualism is a religion that has left many all alone at the top of their world.
This week I’m preparing for the monthly LeadershipLab I host on our campus. The focus of this month’s training is the discipline to lead yourself first.
Leading yourself is a lot harder than leading others. I think it’s easier for us to look at someone else and identify what that person needs to do or be in order to grow and develop (at least it appears to be easier). But when we begin to point the finger back at ourselves, there’s all kinds of games we play to often avoid the painful realities of who we are…really.
The best leaders are themselves. They don’t try to be somebody else – someone who they are not. They know who they are.
The less a leader knows about him or herself, the more that leader will simply role play.
Sometimes, students will ask me, “What do I have to DO to be a leader?”
As we talk about the different types of activities and skills and situational responses a person may have that demonstrates their leadership ability, I’ll say there’s probably another question that they should answer first:
What kind of person do I have to BE in order to lead?