You are the most overlooked leader in your life, and it is holding you back.
Leadership is a crucial factor in the success of any organization. The ability for an organization, whether that is a business, a community, or a family, to have a purpose, a vision for what that purpose looks like, and a game plan for growth rests mostly on the leadership structure of that organization. Those three elements; purpose, vision, and a game plan, are necessary for success as an organization.
We know this is true of organizations, but have you thought about that same idea applying to your life as an individual? Your ability to have purpose,
In This Article:
- Who is Leading You?
- Leading or Reflecting?
- Keys to Great Self-Leadership
So who is leading you?
Maybe some better questions to ask are:
Who are you following?
Is it just one person or is it a team of people in your life?
Are you on that leadership team in your own life?
When it comes down to it, leadership is really all about influence. It is the ability to influence or impact the way people think and behave. In that way, we are all leaders to some extent because we all influence people around us.
A number of years ago there was a basic agreement among many sociologist that said that the most introverted individuals will influence around 10,000 people in their lifetime. With the increase of social media, that number has to be much higher now.
You are constantly being influenced, led, impacted as you live your life. There are thousands of voices and messages trying to give you direction, trying to get you to buy this or to invest in that on a daily basis.
So when it comes down to it, how is the leadership in your life handling all of those decisions?
This is one of the most important questions we all need to wrestle with. If the direction of our life is determined by the decision we are making, then we must be aware of how we are making those decisions and who is influencing or leading us in that decision making process.
Are you leading yourself or just reflecting everyone else?
Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders in Atlanta Georgia teaches this lesson using thermostats and thermometers. What is the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer? A thermometer tells you what the temperature in the room is. A thermostat sets the temperature. As you look at your life, which of the two do you resemble more? Are you just a reflection of everything else around you or are you setting the temperature, the mood, the direction, of your life? Are you making decisions based on what is happening around you or are you making decisions based on what you believe or know is the right direction to move?
The question is are you adjusting your thermostat or is everyone else adjusting it for you?
That’s not to say that you don’t take into account what people around you are doing or saying. Good thermostats have a thermometer in it. A thermostat has to know what the temperature in the room is in order to adjust to it. Likewise, to set a good direction in your life, take into account what is going on around you. But don’t let that determine your next decision.
Keys To Great Self-Leadership
I want to give you some things to consider when thinking about who is leading you in life…
Choose a Team
I know the temptation for many people is to try to be a lone wolf. The problem is that a lone wolf has a hard time surviving. There is a reason wolves travel in packs. Their chances of survival and thriving are much higher when they have others around them to help.
The issue is not whether people are influencing your decisions in life. Rather, the problem is not being intentional about who you are allowing to influence. Be intentional about the people you are following. Look for people who care about you. Look for people who share similar core values. Look for people who have diverse backgrounds and experiences than your own. Look for people who will be honest with you. Diversity and honesty combined with common core values will create a community that will help you see your weaknesses and blind spots but pushes you to grow and move forward.
Your team may, and probably should change a little over time. Like any good organization that has a new leader who steps in to shake things up, or to question the status quo, we need people to come into our lives who will do that for us.
Self-Awareness is key
One mark of a great leader is self-awareness. Their capacity to understand themselves, how they are wired, their strengths and weaknesses. There is not much worse than a leader in an organization who is completely unaware of how they are being received by others or how their strategy affects the organization as a whole. Self-awareness allows for a leader to make adjustments for tendencies in their personality or style that could have devastating effects. We all know this, many of us have probably worked for someone like that. People complain all the time of having to deal with a manager or boss who is completely unaware of how their attitude or actions affect those around them. The interesting thing is those same people are also often unaware of how their attitude and actions affect those around them.
If you are going to be an effective leader in your own life, developing self-awareness is crucial. Here are a few steps to take to grow in self awareness:
- Take a personality test. There are many free ones online.
- Take a strengths assessment
- Ask the people who know you best to tell you about your strengths and weaknesses.
- Take a few minutes at the end of each week to reflect and take notes on what you did well in the past week and what was a struggle to complete, what was energizing and what was draining. After a few weeks of this, you will start to see strengths and weaknesses emerge from what you devote your time to.
Establish a framework for decision making
Establishing a team and taking ownership of your decision making is crucial, but knowing how to make decisions and what you base decisions off of is equally important. One of the most helpful things I have experienced when it comes to decisions in my life is establishing core values. Kyle Seagraves wrote an article and we developed an e-book to help you establish your own core values.
Core values create a foundation for how you make decisions. For instance, if integrity is a core value of yours, then when situations come up where you have to make a decision, you base that decision on whether or not it allows you to keep your integrity in that decision. That small pause to check whether you decision aligns with your personal values can keep you from making decisions that ultimately will deter you from moving in the direction you want your life to go and at the same time help you become more of the person you are striving to become.
Do you have a picture of what you want to do or be in the near future?
Your success in making that picture a reality depends on the leadership you have in your life. Make sure you spend time developing your ability to lead yourself well. Be a thermostat, setting the direction you are heading instead of just reflecting where everyone else is going. Be intentional in who you are allowing to influence your decisions. We all need the insight we gain from others, but we need good insight from trusted people. Develop that framework for how you are going to make decisions. Know what you are basing your decisions on, then move forward in confidence that you have a great leadership team moving you closer to that picture!