Re-post by Jenni Catron
Something deep inside each of us longs to count. We want to matter to the world. We long to make a difference. We get bored, tired, even depressed by routine and monotony. We’re desperate for significance. We’re searching for acknowledgment. We want to be known.
But to be known begins with knowing ourselves.
God has equipped you and designed you to live out your unique calling and gifting as a leader. Your heart yearns for influence because it is a part of how He created you. It’s God-designed, but it can also be humanly-distorted if we neglect the most important part of leadership – self-leadership.
Self-leadership is defined as “the process” of influencing oneself to establish the self-direction and self-motivation needed to perform.
Leadership begins with yourself. You must lead yourself well to lead others better.
“There is a person with whom you spend more time than any other, a person who has more influence over you, and more ability to interfere with or to support your growth than anyone else. This ever-present companion is your own self. “ Dr. Pamela Butler, Clinical Psychologist
I believe that self-leadership is the foundation for leadership and unfortunately it’s not the flashy part. It’s the tough part. It doesn’t get attention or affirmation. No one is singing your praises for leading yourself well. In fact, here are a few tough truths that we need to understand about self-leadership:
- No one cares more about your personal development than you do.
- You can’t wait for someone else to lead you.
- No one owes you leadership.
- No one is responsible for your leadership development.
I share these things to challenge you, because if you understand the hard work of self-leadership, and pour yourself into it without expectations of others or an entitled attitude, you will develop the character and core of a remarkable leader.
Parker Palmer reminds us that, “Good leadership comes from people who have penetrated their own inner darkness and arrived at the place where we are at one with one another. People who can lead the rest of us to place of ‘hidden wholeness’ because they have been there and know the way.”
Your God-given influence – your leadership – is a gift to you and others. We need you to thrive so that you can help others thrive. This journey of self-leadership, although painful at times, is part of what equips you to be the leader God has called you to be.
So just how do we do this?
Here are, what I believe, are the core elements of developing self-leadership. These are just listed to get you thinking. You’ll need to unpack them and determine what steps you will need to take to grow in each of these areas.
- Who you are when no one is looking
- Attention to your spiritual and emotional health
- Expecting more from you than others do
- Relentless pursuit of the character qualities you want to be true of you
- Be the one to get it done
- Set goals for yourself in all areas: personal, professional, family, and fun
- Take initiative
- “Leaders are readers”; Read ferociously
- Be a lifelong learner, and be a fanatic about it
- Surround yourself with mentors and people smarter than you
- Know your strengths & weaknesses
- Seek counsel
- Identify mentors
- Always evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation
Self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership.
How are you doing in the area of self-leadership? What one thing could you start working on today to improve?
About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.