“Lead yourself first and then the others,” Friedhelm Boschert, former Chairman of the Board of Volksbank International Vienna tells us in his book of the same name. Indeed, leading yourself is the first step to achieving success especially in the current business environment of ever faster change and ever greater unpredictability.
What does it take to lead yourself? First of all, you need to know yourself—your strengths, your challenges, what you’re feeling and what brought the feelings about, your worldview and how that affects your interactions with others. Then you need to take responsibility for managing yourself, learning how to motivate yourself to do what you must do and to stop doing what holds you back on your path to success. Self-leadership then provides a firm foundation from which to effectively lead others—by example and by wise interventions, made effective by a good understanding of what makes others tick and how people interact in groups and by communication that is tailored to each situation.
Part of this is understanding the changing nature of leadership. No longer can one count on the authority of one’s position to get the results one’s organization needs. The business environment and the workforce have changed too much for that. Organizations need the creativity and commitment of their people at all levels and in all positions, and it is the leader’s job to foster that. In addition, younger members of the workforce are more likely to question the legitimacy of a leader’s position. The leader becomes more of a facilitator of other people’s work, creating favourable circumstances (including good team dynamics) for his or her people’s most creative and committed work.
As stress levels rise in business and life in general, a part of self-leadership is also increasingly managing one’s own stress and the often resulting anger about the stress as well as helping others to manage theirs. Resilience is key to ongoing success, and self-leadership helps leaders develop resilience for themselves and others, recognizing and honouring physical and emotional needs for greater impact.
Along the way learning to tap into the power of the mind can help. It is said that “Words create Worlds” and learning to lead oneself first is greatly helped by choosing words to shape a more positive and successful experience.
Leaders who can lead themselves, are aware of their triggers and motivators, can regulate and motivate themselves, and can help the people they lead to do the same are in a better position to meet the challenges of today’s business world.