Self Leadership by Mark Wager
By Mark Wager
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Chinese military general, Sun Tzu, wrote about the need to know yourself around 2,500 years ago in his military strategy masterpiece "The Art of War." Today is no different, you need to have a good understanding of yourself in order to lead others because if you can't lead yourself you will never be able to lead a team. Self leadership is the key to ongoing success.
Self leadership can be described as the ability to install belief, focus and discipline into yourself in order to achieve an objective. The quest to achieve a necessary self leadership is a long journey but it all starts with a simple question of just how much you know yourself. The best way to start is to get feedback from those around you. I've found that 360 degree feedback, if done correctly, can be extremely useful. If you haven't been exposed to this before, a 360 degree feedback is when your colleagues, your immediate manager and the people you report to are given an opportunity to supply confidential feedback on you. "I know I do this but I thought I hid it" that's the common reaction I hear from people when I sit down with them to review their feedback. They know how they are expected to lead and that's their genuine aim, but cracks in their public persona show through and people are generally smart enough to pick up on them even though we think they don't. This 360 feedback process answers the crucial question that determines if you have self leadership skills. These are:
Do I come across how I think I come across.
The answer may surprise you as we all perceive the world in very different ways and its this individual perception that influences how we interpret actions of others. There's a very good chance that your actions are not being interpreted in the same way that you intend them to be. In fact, based on my experience, I would say that there's only a one in four chance of experiencing no misinterpretation what so ever.
Take in other people's views of you but remember that they just have one perception of how you come across, a view that may not be correct but is valid. Avoid the knee jerk reaction of arguing the validity of people's views or dismissing any view that doesn't match your own. Whether they think you are great or if they think you are terrible it's just a demonstration of how people can perceive you in very different ways. It may not be real for you but for them their perception creates and generates their reality.
Perception = reality
The key of establishing self leadership is the acceptance that other people see things differently to how you do and just as importantly remembering that there is very rarely a right or wrong view, it's just what is. Once you accept this reality then you will have the freedom of knowing that you and only you can control your emotions, others may try to influence you but only you can determine how you feel.
If a leader understands the different perceptions that people have, then they will have the ability to look through these different lenses in order to look at themselves in a new way. No longer are they the leader they wish to be but they become the leader as they really are. The process to have true self leadership is a long one and this is the start. This is the stage that the leader truly starts to lead both themselves and others.
"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
About the Author:
Mark Wager is an expert in tapping into the hidden leadership potential that exists within everyone. Contact Mark to see if he has any available coaching sessions which can help you achieve your goals.
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Posted: Monday 20 July 2015