Self-leadership is the ultimate influence – influencing ourselves so we can effectively influence others. After all, as Lao Tzu says “Mastering yourself is true power”.
From your initial feedback, you will have noticed that the questions were divided into categories. They’re listed below together with a brief description of the category:
Self-Awareness is about understanding how we perceive ourselves and the world around us together with the reason for those perceptions. Because of the way our brain handles incoming stimulii, we draw our conclusions from a fraction of the whole picture. Metaphorically speaking, we have one piece of a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. When we increase self-awareness, we actively seek to expand our understanding of ourselves which helps us understand others.
We use feedback on our behaviour and our way of being in order to retrieve unconscious information such as beliefs so we can question whether they are useful or not. Self-awareness is the foundation of compassion and empathy for ourselves and others. It is also the key to growth.
Lack of self-awareness leaves us without any opportunity to grow. We tend to place the blame for situations that don’t turn out the way we want onto external factors – other people, their agendas, their behaviour. Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Without self-awareness, we have little or no opportunity to understand others. Without that, we can’t hope to lead others effectively.
Motivation and Influence:
As an extension of self-awareness, motivation is an inside job. Broadly, motivation is simply the reason we act or behave in a particular way. The general view is that motivation is driven by values. It’s also influenced by self-esteem, beliefs about how the world works and about our capabilities.
Understanding our own motivation is the key to being able to influence ourselves to act in a particular way to achieve a desired outcome.
At a base level, it comes back to WIIFM (what’s in it for me) to carry out this particular task, fulfil this project, have this difficult conversation, put myself forward for an opportunity or any of the other situations that open up for us as leaders. What are the internal factors such as needs, desires, wants or drives we have to stimulate us to achieve a particular outcome? Or the external factors such as rewards or avoidance of negative consequences.
Research shows that most of us don’t know or understand our own motivation, meaning we don’t have a handle on what drives us. Unpacking behaviour is considered the way to identify our unconscious values and beliefs. However, we interpret our own behaviour and that of others through our unique perspective which is flawed given we have only a fraction of the picture. I use the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle. We have only one piece of a five thousand piece puzzle so we really have no concept of what is really going on.
Strengths and Successes
For us to have a realistic view of ourselves and what we offer, we need to understand and accept our strengths and the successes we have achieved. This can be far more difficult than nominating all the things we’re not good at or failed to achieve. It’s simply human nature.
Someone who is self-aware recognises that owning our strengths and successes doesn’t detract from someone else’s strengths and successes. From that position, we realise that each of us brings a unique combination of qualities, capabilities and achievements. One person being successful doesn’t threaten the success of others. There’s enough sun to shine on everyone.
Knowing and feeling comfortable talking about our strengths and successes doesn’t mean we’re being immodest. We need to know what we’re really good at and why that’s important in order to find the right job or business opportunities for ourselves. We also need to recognise when we have capability gaps and act to address them.
Understanding our strengths and successes provides us with the opportunity to make our unique contribution (Purpose).
Coming from a place of doubt and uncertainty about our own capability gets in the way of us, as leaders, living up to our own potential and seeing the potential in others.
Career or Business Achievement
A key part of self-leadership as a foundation for leadership of others is to identify what you’re seeking to achieve.
What Purpose do you have to lead yourself and others? What is the big Why for your leadership and career? What is the Vision you have for your leadership? And what goals do you need to set yourself to stimulate the actions that will manifest your Vision?
Without a clear goal to aim for, you may be like a rudderless boat, working hard and not getting to a meaningful destination.
Accountability and Feedback
Accountability is about outcomes beyond the task itself. It is about being totally clear and focussed on the goals we want to achieve and which support our leadership or career Vision, holding ourselves accountable for reaching them.
Feedback is an important aspect of performance and achievement. It shines a light onto our blindspots and provides us with information to help us see where we can improve our performance and achieve our goals.
The opportunity for someone who is genuinely interested in growing and developing as a human being and as a leader is to unpack outcomes, identify our role in them and fine-tune our actions to achieve better outcomes. Without feedback and accountability we are limited in our ability to see how we can improve our performance.