Lead Yourself Well to Lead Others BetterPublished May 22, 2017
TOPICS IN THIS ARTICLECharacterChurch & Faith-BasedEmotional IntelligenceLeading OrganizationsLearning AgilityProductivity
Leaders like to lead. It’s what we do. And when we say we like to lead, we usually mean we like to lead others, right?
But one of the truths that has become increasingly convicting for me in my journey as a leader is that if I can’t lead myself well, I will be ill-equipped to lead others and add value to them.
Part of the responsibility of leadership is understanding our influence on others. Leadership is only as strong as the leader. And that responsibility, if you’re grasping the weight of it, is the reason why your leadership journey must begin with leading yourself well.
We must learn how to lead ourselves well in order to truly add value to the people around us.
In my quest to learn what great self-leadership looks like, I found a framework for leadership development in one of the most fundamental elements of my faith—The Great Commandment.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
And the second-greatest commandment:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)
When Jesus asked us to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength, he was essentially saying we should love God with all of ourselves—with everything in us. When he says love your neighbor as yourself, again the implication is to love with all of who you are.
Here’s the linchpin for us—when I consider my life as a leader, it means leading with all of who I am for the benefit of God and others. Leadership requires all of me—my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. To not give all of me would be to shortchange God and others of what God has given me.
Extraordinary leaders learn to lead themselves first in these four dimensions. They develop the discipline to understand their motivations, to evaluate their emotional health on a continual basis, to manage their physical health and to nurture their soul. With that in mind, here are four dimensions we need to attend to in order to lead ourselves well.
Four Dimensions for Self-Leadership
- Heart—Leading from your heart means leading with an understanding of who you are. Your heart is the center of your emotions, desires and wishes. We must understand what motivates and influences us before we can lead others from a sincere heart. We have the potential to understand others better when we first understand ourselves.
- Soul—The soul is the epicenter of morality, integrity, humility and servanthood. Leading from the soul is all about developing your character. Developing character produces qualities that cause others to have confidence to follow you as a leader. As you pursue growth in your character, be relentless about defining and developing the qualities that you want to be true of you.
- Mind—Your mind is the seat of intellectual activity. It is what enables you to deliberate, to process, to reflect, to ponder and to remember. The mind enables us to strategize and to make plans. Leaders are learners. You must commit to constant learning and be a fanatic about it. Read ferociously and surround yourself with people smarter than you.
- Strength—Your strength emerges as you develop discipline and consistency in your life. Those we lead and influence will be evaluating our actions because actions speak louder than intentions. Our leadership will be evaluated by what we do, not what we intend. Set goals and achieve them. Take initiative and follow through. Know your limits and always play to your strengths.
Self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership. Understanding who you are, cultivating your character, committing to lifelong learning and developing discipline provide the framework for fostering the leadership of self.
The great irony of self-leadership is that as we grow more effective at leading ourselves, we become more self-less. Healthy self-leadership provides the perspective from which we become more other-centric rather than self-centered.
By tackling some of the challenges that tend to derail or distract us, we become better equipped to lead from our whole heart, soul, mind and strength for the glory of God and the good of others.
Portions of this post were excerpted from The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership by Jenni Catron.
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About the Author(s)
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker and leadership expert committed to helping others lead from their extraordinary best. A leader who loves “putting feet to vision,” she has served on the executive leadership teams of Menlo Church in Menlo Park, CA, and Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. Outreach Magazine has recognized Jenni as one of the 30 emerging influencers reshaping church leadership. She is the author of several books, including her latest The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.