The Hardest Part of Self-Leadership (Part 1)

My year hasn’t gotten off to the start I’d planned – and it’s my fault. Sure there’s been a lot going on, but several of the things I intended to get done so far this year haven’t happened. So, what I’m thinking about this morning is why is self-leadership so hard?

How do I define self-leadership? Let’s apply Warren Bennis’ description of what leaders do: they turn intention into reality and sustain it. So, self-leadership is the ability to do the same for ourselves – turn intention into reality and sustain it. That’s challenging for me!
I think self-leadership is hard for at least four big reasons – I’m sure there are many others.
1. As leaders, there are many demands on our time. Demands and expectations set by others. If we’re not careful, these outside demands can overwhelm our capacity to lead ourselves well. This is not intended as an excuse, just a reality to be managed.
2. We live in a world focused on today – not tomorrow. If we are not extremely vigilant, this short-term mentality will infect our thinking as leaders. Leadership is a life-long journey. We’ve got to work extremely hard to keep the urgent (seemingly urgent) things from pushing out the more important things.
3. We undervalue the benefit of leading ourselves well. If we consistently fail to lead ourselves well, there are consequences – maybe not today or tomorrow, but the consequences are real. One of them: People always watch the leader. If we can’t lead ourselves well, it will, over time, undermine the confidence others place in us as leaders.
4. I’m often too lazy to do what I know I should do. More times than I like to admit, I don’t want to do the things I say are important to me. I’d rather take a nap than go to the gym. I’d rather sleep 15 minutes later than start my day in prayer and solitude. I don’t know if it’s just me, but too often, I’d just prefer to do nothing… and that certainly includes self-leadership!
So, let’s assume I’ve captured some of the reasons self-leadership is hard, what do we do? I’ll write about that in my next post… [GLS_Shield]
Why do you think self-leadership is so difficult?

Leave a comment



Troy Slezak

9 years ago

Thanks Mark for your transparency. I too struggle with “Intentionality” in leading myself! Thanks for the post. I’m looking forward to your follow up.

mark

9 years ago

Thanks Troy – stay the course! Mark

adam

9 years ago

I think the hardest thing with self-leadership is not having someone checking on you asking you did you get this project done or did you meet your goals for this month or year, so discipline is key. I found the best way to self lead is to develop habits or routines that become automated into your life, that way it becomes like brushing your teeth in the morning just part of your day. i also see a lot of people when they try ” self-lead” they take on too much , for me i think of it like working out , you have to start small with certain goals, build your strength , make sure they get accomplished and sustained , then build on them.

mark

9 years ago

Thanks Adam! Great advice. Mark

Jack

9 years ago

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” tends to be true for many of us. I feel that keeping a physical, visible list of whats actually important that we need to do in order to continue being effective leaders is key. So many distractions these days – it’s nice to look at an agenda of “priorities” to clear the air and get refocused.

mark

9 years ago

Thank you Jack! I think there’s real wisdom in your advice. Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

Juan Xavier Esquivel

9 years ago

Because we lost self discipline to the right things when we have to do it.

mark

9 years ago

Self-discpline is a very good thing indeed! I’m just trying to get more of it. Thanks Juan.

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6 years ago

[…] my last post, I outlined some of the reasons I find self-leadership to be so difficult. My short list […]

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