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7 Practices of Effective Personal Leadership

Leading Others Starts With Leading Yourself

Here’s a thought. If you can’t lead yourself, why would others want to follow you? Leadership starts with leading yourself. Your life eventually gives testimony to the quality of self-leadership you have, and no one will follow a leader for long who is not leading himself/herself to greater heights.

We crave positions and titles, but we all have observed that a title or position can only take us so far. If you don’t have more than this official designation to offer, you will fail magnificently. The very first piece of leading yourself well is actually accepting that you are the leader of your own life. You have to draw deeply from within. You choose to grow yourself so that you can have an increasingly positive impact on others.

Warren Bennis, one of our culture’s great business and philanthropic leaders, has stated, “No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders. So the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You, must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.” That is a great challenge, and one well-worth taking. Leading yourself makes you eligible and capable of leading others.

Effective personal leadership begins at the heart level. It is an ongoing process, not a job you check off your list. These practices are vital:

  • Clarifying Your Purpose. Great leaders have a specific purpose and vision that affirms why they are here at this specific time and place, and what they want to achieve with that one and only life.

  • Leveraging Your Uniqueness. Great leaders waste no time in envy. They have confidence that emanates from a deep understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and capabilities that make them unique. A great leader knows where he is strong, how to make the best use of those strength, and how to compensate for weaknesses. A great leader knows that she makes a vital, one-of-a-kind contribution to others.

  • Cultivating Vital Character. Character is the heart of who you are as a leader. You cannot lead without a bedrock of values, principles, and habits that give inner dimension to your leadership. These values are grounded in self-awareness, personal beliefs, habits, and motivations. Part of this vital character is acknowledging blind spots and seeking help.

  • Maintaining the Mindset of a Leader. An effective leader must have more than on the job skills. He must have an attitude and perspective that supports effective action and execution despite changing circumstances. Building a leadership mindset, attitude and perspective that supports effective execution and daily action.

  • Managing Time and Energy Effectively. Superior leaders lead with strength and outlast other leaders because they actually work the practices and habits that are necessary for manage energy. They work to get a grip on health, fitness, and time management so they can achieve more and do better with less.

  • Building Trusting Relationships. Great leaders never get to the pinnacle of leadership alone. They work to build and maintain a network of relationships with capable people who advise, guide, and inspire them to greatness.

  • Continually Maximizing Personal Development. Leaders at the top of the heap give priority time and energy to personal development. They have a plan and a process to keep getting better and better in their skills and leadership. They stay humble and hungry as they grow.

Leading yourself well requires a major investment of time in the development of personal leadership practices. It requires humility and willingness to learn from others. You will struggle to become a even a passable leader unless you learn to be great at leading yourself. Leaders who fail at leading themselves eventually fail all around. They lose their integrity, they wear out far too soon, they drive away the very people they need.

Your leadership dreams starts with you. How are you doing?

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