Lead yourself? 9 proven ways to do it.

by Rob Sheppard

[Approx. 3 minute read]

There is a quote attributed to Aristotle that goes along the lines of ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ fun fact, he didn’t actually say this – but something that might be construed that way.

This concept, applied in a business context, is that an organisation is there to coordinate the work of the many towards a common Purpose.

How an organisation achieves this Purpose relies heavily on Managers (or SME business leaders) assigning work and ensuring that the right people, are in the right seat, on the right bus.

There are three things that separate the great Managers from the good in delivering on this:

  1. realising their role is no longer based on their technical knowledge alone
  2. ensuring they assign work in the same direction for the team and the organisation
  3. knowing they must lead themselves before they can lead others.

Leading Self?

This last point is a common theme in any good leadership program, and for very good reason.

When you get it right, you’ll find the ‘road’ you are driving suddenly becomes a lot clearer – especially to the people sitting in the bus seats behind you.

These people will also begin to make decisions on whether they want to keep sitting in their seats.

At QHr, we have blended a few experts and our lived experiences to come up with a short and practical meaning for leading self:

Setting yourself goals and behaviours and INTENTIONALLY leading yourself towards these.

Is this just another word for ‘therapy’?

A trusted coach I know would say everyone needs some therapy if they are truly interested in becoming a better person and leader.

For many of us however, the thought of bearing our professional and personal ‘souls’ might be a bridge too far.

For those of you who do not have the time or resources to invest in ongoing support, the following are nine learnings we have found to be true over the years that might help – in addition to seeking professional and ongoing help of course.

9 steps

  1. Speak your Purpose (aloud and often). What motivates you, what Values guide you, what excites you?
  2. Reflect (on your strengths and weaknesses). How can you support or play to those?
  3. Be modest (when you succeed and open when you fail). Some refer to this as the act of being ‘humble’.
  4. Be positive. The power of positive thinking and saying it aloud. Maybe try some Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques to turn that frown upside down.
  5. Write it (especially for conversations with others). Write out your Purpose – or even your strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Seek feedback– you learn from your lessons more than from your successes. If you’re ready, ask for feedback on your Purpose, Strengths etc etc.
  7. Be empathetic. This is showing you also have a lived experience to share – not saying ‘sorry’.
  8. Be patient (with yourself). Getting to grips with how you lead yourself (and changing behaviours) takes time.
  9. Be kind (to yourself when you fail) – because you will. However, openly acknowledging when you fail is the moment you are demonstrating to everyone watching what it means to be on the bus with you.

And a final word of advice:

This journey is not an easy one.

The boffins will make it sound easy and that everyone but YOU is doing this correctly.

As business leaders, we are not running ‘adult day-care centres’. Which means, sometimes, you’ll find that the best of your new and improved leadership won’t cut it with some of your people. This might sound harsh given the context of this article, but it is said with a purpose.

When you have looked into the mirror and asked ’have I genuinely practised leading myself’ and replied, ‘yes I have’- then you can move onto how you are practically Leading the Team around you.

You’ll find holding them to the same levels of accountability you have demonstrated is much, much easier and your job is now to help them find the right seat on the bus…

.. or that the bus might not be driven by you.

Other reading

Many fantastic subject specialists are available with the following examples just a few we’ve come across over the years that have made an impact – from the smallest quick read to the most detailed reading and review:

WEBSITE: Jim Collins – Good to Great

PODCAST: The Heart of Daring Leadership – Brené Brown (brenebrown.com)

ARTICLE: Good to Great: The key traits of Jim Collins Level 5 Leadership (thegrowthfaculty.com)

YOUTUBE: Two Skills of Yoda That Leaders Should Learn More About | Jacob Morgan

And if it’s all still confusing?

If you need help or have a sense this might be a future issue for you and your business, please click the link below and we’ll be happy to speak to you about any ideas this article has raised for you (or your team).

Thanks for reading!