Leaders like to lead. And when we say we like to lead, we usually mean we like to lead others, right?

But one of the most important truths that any good leader needs to learn is that leadership begins with you. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.

Self-leadership is defined as “the process” of influencing oneself to establish the self-direction and self-motivation needed to perform.

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 a lot of attention or affirmation.

No one is singing your praises for leading yourself well, but self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership. I promise!

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

Before we dive into some ways to lead your self, let me share a few more tough truths about self-leadership:

From a human perspective, no one else cares more about your personal development than you do.

You can’t wait for someone else to lead you.

No one else owes you leadership.

No one else is responsible for your leadership development.

Ouch! I know. But 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.

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.

1) Character

This is who you are when no one is looking.

It requires attention to your spiritual and emotional health.

It means expecting more from you than others do.

What qualities do you want to be true about your character? Relentlessly pursue the development of them.

2) Discipline

Be the one to get it done.

Set goals for yourself in all areas: personal, professional, family, 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.

3) Self-awareness

Know your strengths and weaknesses.

Seek counsel.

Identify mentors.

Always evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation.

You create most of your opportunities by the choices you make in leading yourself.

How are you doing in the area of self-leadership? What one thing could you start working on today to improve?

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