The quickest way to get traction in leadership is to solve problems. I work with a leadership development collective called “Smart People – Smart Organisations” and our value proposition is “making problems that won’t go away, go away”. What a bold statement. Interestingly enough, over the last two years I’ve seen that happen time and time again. When leaders focus on solving the REAL issues the impact on teams, careers, morale, momentum and outcomes is profound.
This next series of posts is dedicated to problem solving. What problems do leaders really solve? And how. Of course I’d love you to join the conversation and pass on your wisdom and experience where it applies to problem solving.
The five secrets to successful self leadership
For the last two decades I have held onto an anonymous quote that reads “I have had more problems with myself than any other man I have met.” This resonates deeply with all those committed to the leadership value of responsibility. In truth there is much to be proud of in your leadership, and if we are truly honest, much to continue to develop. It just IS.
I previously quoted Bryant and Kazan 2012 definition of self leadership which is outstanding. It reads “Self-leadership is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviours on the way to getting there.
The first problem you must solve as a leader is the problem of you! Your leadership is a direct reflection of yourself. The good and the not so good. It’s the reality check of leadership isn’t it? Self leadership is where your leadership begins.
Here are five secrets to successful self leadership
Have a healthy and maturing sense of identity. Your personal identity or sense of self IS your leadership. The way you see yourself is the way you engage with others. The way you inspire yourself is the way you inspire others. The expectations you have of yourself is the expectations you have of others. The judgement you hold to yourself is the way you judge others – Your leadership is the overflow of your personal identity.
This all works well when your sense of self is healthy. In other cases the impact you can have on others.
Be realistic and optimistic about your core strengths. The principal of “thirty, sixty and hundred fold” gets discussed in ancient wisdom by a brilliant leader named Mark. He outlines that it is possible for a life to be effective on levels. Apply the same principal to capacity. You have built in skills and capabilities (the faith world calls them gifts) that you will naturally use and gravitate to. Those skills will give you a particular outcome in life.
Personal growth is most effective when you are clear about your natural hard wiring. For example, I am more verbal than scientific. More conceptual than spatial. More extroverted than introverted. I know my DISC profile, My Myers Briggs Profile, my 5 Strengths Finders, my top 8 Spiritual gifts in order and how they interact with my passions and life themes.
The point is you HAVE to know what your natural disposition is. You must be thoroughly aware of what your core skills and competencies are. You are not good at everything and no one expects you to be. However, what you are naturally good at may I respectfully suggest you owe it to the world to be the BEST you possibly can be.
Take full responsibility for your attitude and actions. Winston Churchill said “The price of greatness is responsibility” TO make progress you are proud of you must be responsible for the creation of that preferred future. The moment you begin to believe that the results you are experiencing is in some way because of someone and something else is the moment you step out of the self leadership groove. You abdicate your results to something you have no power over whatsoever. This is the antithesis of self leadership. The results you are presently experiencing are the results you most want. That belief alone can be the turning point for you and your leadership. Read more here about the power of personal responsibility.
Any honest appraisal of life will turn up areas that require growth and development. This is normal. The critical issue is taking responsibility for what and how you experience in the future. If you want it to be different, do something different.
Have an influential group of peers to be accountable to. There are two types of emotions around outcomes. The pride that comes from a mission accomplished or the regret from a lost opportunity. Accountability is designed so you feel the pressure and pain to perform early enough to ensure you give your best effort to achieving the meaningful goal. It is that pain and pressure from people that love you or the pain and regret of having missed the moment.
Aldous Huxley has some good advice for this prone to regret. He says “Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”
Learn from the missed opportunities and moments. But by no means make it your permanent address. Develop a small, influential group of people around you who you will listen to, learn from and at times submit to for your own benefit. They love you enough to not let you off, to not let you believe your own tweets and to care you get to the desired future you so bravely pursue.
Never stop learning and applying new knowledge. Self Leadership requires consistent application of knowledge. As you plan your year, set your course and clarify your milestones make sure you are creating space to be inspired and instructed. Inspiration gives you the energy to make the cage. Instruction gives you the information. Combine the two and jump! Fail fast and fail forward. (Thank you John Maxwell.)
Be quick to learn. Quick to apply. Quick to teach another. Perhaps develop the culture in your accountability group that shares new learning’s with each other as fast as you get them. Discard the unresourceful ones. Sharpen your focus on the ones that make the biggest positive. Whatever you do, always be learning and integrating new.
The first and biggest problem leaders solve is the problem of self. Start there and take just one step forward.
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