Self-Awareness to Self-Leadership

authority influence know yourself positional leadership self aware leader self awareness self awareness in leadership self leadership self leadership strategies Jan 13, 2022
Self Awareness in Leadership

I can’t even count the number of times over the last 20 years or so that I’ve heard John Maxwell say that “the highest form of leadership is self-leadership.” Then he usually goes on to qualify that statement by emphasizing that it’s always more difficult to lead ourselves well than it is to lead someone else. His reasoning behind this is that we tend to judge others on their actions while we often judge ourselves on our intentions. Even when our actions don’t meet expectations, we can tend to give ourselves a bit of a pass if our intentions were good in the process. We rarely offer that same kind of understanding to the people around us, the people we’re responsible for leading…

Once we’ve accessed tools that help us build a strong foundation of self-awareness like I shared about last time, we can begin to develop a strategic approach for leading ourselves effectively and we can use that same understanding as we help the leaders on our teams follow suit.

As a quick side note, barking orders from a position of authority can certainly get results from the team members who report to us but that approach will always require something from us that will severely limit the long term impact we can make, both personally and through our team. That approach requires us to be present and actively involved in all steps of the process to be effective. The moment we no longer have direct visibility of the situation, our position authority loses at least a portion of the impact it has when we have our eyes on the task at hand. And if we have to be actively involved to get the best possible results, that’s going to be a bottleneck to what we can achieve over the long haul!

If we want to build a culture that achieves results with or without us having our hands on every moving part, we earn real leadership - more specifically, the influence we need to really lead our teams - by showing the team around us that we’re willing to do the hard work of leading ourselves before we ever attempt to exert our authority on them. When our team sees that we hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold anyone else to, they’ll buy-in at a higher level than we could ever achieve through that positional authority alone!

So how can we do this? Well, that’s where knowing ourselves comes into play. While there may be some overlap, the strategies that work best for me to lead myself won’t likely be exactly what works best for you. But when we have the solid understanding of how we’re wired, then we apply through the feedback we can get from the DISC Leadership Assessment I referenced before, we be strategic about how we lead ourselves and we can be just as strategic about how we work to lead the team around us - based on what THEY need rather than just what we need. We’ll start working through that next!