A leader is someone who knows where they’re going and influences the heads, hands and hearts of others to follow. Notice I didn’t mention anything about role or title. The key words are “influence” and “heart”. A leader is someone people want to follow. It is first and foremost about being a person people trust and who inspires confidence.
The point is without a strong core, your influence as a leader will always be limited. Self-leadership is about working on the core – developing yourself into a person others want to emulate.
Be-Know-Do, The Army’s Leadership Model
The United States Army uses a simple but profound model to illustrate: Be-Know-Do.
“Be” emphasizes who you are. It is about being a person of character whom people trust.
“Know” emphasizes the acquisition of skills and knowledge.
“Do” is about action. This is where leaders generate results.
Note that “being” comes first. This is the root from which influence grows. It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much activity you generate, if you’re not a person of character others want to follow.
Self-Leadership Is About the Core
Self-leadership is concerned with how you control and manage yourself and your emotions, inner resources, and abilities. It also includes your ability to manage your impulses. A person who excels in self-leadership is someone who practices self-control, has high integrity, is conscientious, agile, and proactive. It is a person who has a strong core and has developed a high emotional intelligence.
The master competency that drives self-leadership is the principle of 100% Responsibility. It is impossible to lead myself unless I first take 100% Responsibility for how I choose to respond to everything in my life, including taking ownership of my own personal development. It is the idea that whenever there’s something in my life I’m unhappy with, I look in the mirror first and ask myself, “What am I going to do about it?” 100% Responsibility drives me to work on my core.
Developing an Action Plan
I have yet to meet the perfect leader; the reality is we’re all a work in progress. And each one of us has within ourselves more untapped potential than we realize. However, to reach that potential requires you continually identify opportunities for improvement and take concrete action to close the gap between where you are today and where you want to be.
Unfortunately, far too many people fail to move from good intent to tangible progress because they haven’t figured out the “how”. They haven’t identified action steps for developing new habits to replace the old. An action plan is a valuable tool to do just that. It creates clarity and focuses our actions on personal development. Below is a short checklist for developing your plan:
Be honest with yourself
Seek clarity on who you want to be
Identify one to three core areas of your character to work on now
Set measurable personal development goals for each area
Develop action steps for how you’re going to achieve those goals
Look for opportunities to practice the habits you’re trying to develop
Revisit your plan daily or weekly to assess how you’re doing
Self-leadership is about lifelong learning. Once you’ve mastered one area, re-assess and identify one to three more areas to work on. Give yourself regular feedback and seek out feedback from others. But always be working on your core!
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