Great Leadership Starts With Self-Leadership

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If you want to be able to lead other people you need to practice self-leadership first. You set the example for others to follow so make sure the example you are setting is the right one.

Self-leadership is all about being a better person and growing as an individual. Developing your self-awareness and confidence will help you be a better leader to others.

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Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

“Unless you learn to face your own shadows, you will continue to see them in others, because the world outside you is only a reflection of the world inside you.” – Unknown

Engage in Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is vital when it comes to self-leadership. Many times we are so focused on everything we have going on in our lives that we forget to look inside ourselves. Take a few moments to analyze yourself.

Get a sheet of paper and write down your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself. Understanding what areas you are strong in and what areas you can improve is vital for getting the most out of your personal development efforts.

In the Air Force pilots reflect after every mission. This period of reflection is called a debrief. The pilot may fly a training mission that lasts less than an hour but after they land the real work begins in their debrief session. These sessions of reflection can last anywhere from an hour and up to four hours or more. During these sessions, pilots go over tapes of the flight and discuss what went right and what went wrong. This is a huge reason why Air Force pilots are so good at what they do.

Most people at the top of their game spend a lot of time reflecting on their performance. From professional athletes watching film of their last game to lawyers going over previous case files to professional poker players watching replays of their hands played. They all get significantly better because of their time invested in reflection.

If it works for these professionals it will help you get better at whatever you are trying to do. A great time to reflect is at the end of every day in the evening. Before you go to bed take a few minutes to think about your day and how it went. Don’t use the time to beat yourself up over mistakes. Instead, think of how you will handle similar situations in the future. Also, make it a point to end the debrief session on what you did right throughout the day. You always want to end on a positive note.

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Use Personality Tests to Get to Know Yourself Better

Personality tests can be a great way to get to know yourself a little better. Arguably the most notable personality test is the Myers & Briggs personality test. The Myers & Briggs personality test is surprisingly accurate at nailing down your personality. 16personalities.com offers a free test with no registration required. It takes around 15 minutes to complete and will open your eyes to many of your strengths and weaknesses.

Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

Once you discover your weaknesses, it’s time to begin turning those weaknesses into strengths. Eliminating weaknesses takes deliberate practice. Have you ever seen a baby learning to walk? They start out stumbling and falling all over the place but when they fall they get back up and keep trying. Eventually, those babies stop falling and start running around all over the place. All this happens within just a few months. It doesn’t take a ton of time to change your weaknesses into strengths if you are willing to put in the effort.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

It’s important to keep your emotions in check as a leader. Negative emotions can lead to poor judgment and faulty decisions. What are negative emotions? Negative emotions can range from extreme anger to sadness to jealousy. If not contained, these negative emotions can lead to ruined relationships that may never recover.

So how do you stay calm?

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Start Before You Need It

There are many steps and measures you can take to keep your emotions in check before you are in a situation where you need it. It’s always best to prepare and your emotions are no different. You need to start preparing yourself before a negative situation arises.

Manage Stress

Managing your stress is vital to keeping your emotions in check. When you are stressed out it is very difficult to control your emotions. There are many things you can do to minimize or eliminate stress before it becomes overwhelming.

Meditate

Meditating is a great way to end and or start the day. Even a 5-minute meditation session can help clear your mind and eliminate some of the stress. Meditation is all about clearing your mind and letting the world slow down around for a few minutes.

If you’re not experienced with meditation guided meditation is a great way to start. Someone walks you through the meditation and gets you into the ideal state faster. Click here for a great guided meditation for positive energy.

Stay Fit

Physical fitness is a great way to reduce stress. Whenever I feel myself getting a little tense I love to hit the gym. This makes me feel sore but mentally refreshed. Men’s Health is a great place for information on a variety of health topics including physical fitness.

Work can one of the top stressors in our lives. Check out this article for even more tips to reduce stress in the workplace.

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Focus on Staying Calm

I know focusing on staying calm sounds obvious but it’s easier said than done. It starts with how we talk to ourselves. If you tell yourself “not to get mad”, many times your brain hears “get mad”. When you tell yourself this, you first have to think about getting mad. Instead, tell yourself “I will remain calm”. Then your brain thinks about calm and does not have to think about being mad first. Try your best to keep the negatives out of self-talk.

Using NLP to set up anchors is another good way to remain calm. This can be easily done with a little bit of preparation. First think about a time when you were at peace and extremely happy. Hear the sounds, smell the smells, and feel the way you felt. Just like you are there again. While picturing this place, gently squeeze the spot on your hand between your thumb and index finger. Do this a few times a day to reinforce the anchor. Now when you feel yourself start to get upset squeeze that part of your hand and the good feelings of that time will enter your body.

Choose a Different Perspective

Mistakes are going to happen and things are not always going to go the way we want them to. You can choose what lens you want to look at these through. What do I mean by that? Some people look at every hurdle as an insurmountable tragedy. Thinking like this takes quite a toll on a person, mentally and physically. Now if you change your perspective just a little bit and tell yourself that it’s a small speed bump, it’s way less daunting.

When you stop making every pitfall in your life so big it helps you get through them quicker. Thinking of them as small speed bumps allow you to begin thinking about a solution immediately instead of feeling sorry for yourself. You also think more clearly when you don’t allow these pitfalls to get you overly upset.

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Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself is very useful in staying motivated. Rewards can be anything like treating yourself to your favorite ice cream to buying yourself a big-ticket item for huge accomplishments. Positive reinforcement works well on most people and it will likely work well when you do it for yourself. When you do a good job feel free to celebrate and treat yourself a little bit.

When you set goals add a reward to the achievement of the goal. This extra motivation will make it even more likely you achieve your goal. Add this reward to your vision board along with your goals to help reinforce the goal.

Internal Motivation

Something motivates you to do what you do. What is it? Are you motivated by power? Does the job motivate you? Is it helping others that motivate you? Does money motivate you? There are many motivations and none of them are wrong. Be honest with yourself. The answers to these questions will help you get more of whatever it is that motivates you and be better with self-leadership.

Don’t be a Hypocrite

When it comes to self-leadership, you need to hold yourself to the same expectations that you hold everybody else to if not higher. If you show up to work late or take extra long breaks, you can’t expect your subordinates to respect you. It probably won’t be long before they are doing the same thing. You set the example for those around you to follow. Even if people above you are not following the same guidelines.

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Always Look for Ways to Grow

Personal and professional development is important to becoming a better person. Self-leadership also means pushing yourself to be more knowledgeable and increasing your skills as a leader. There are so many personal growth opportunities that will enhance your self-leadership. On the internet, you can find free videos, podcasts, blogs, or even free courses. With so many options out there you can find a topic that you enjoy.

Conclusion

To be a great leader, you need to start self-leadership. This is where leadership starts. The better you are at self-leadership, the better you will be at leading others. Make yourself a better version of you every day and encourage others to do the same. Never stop growing as a person.

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