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If you want to lead, you have to master self-leadership

I am amazed at how many people in positions of leadership can’t even lead themselves effectively, consistently or with integrity.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s your local church, school, the government or a small or large business.  In the end if you want to lead others regardless of your position, roles or responsibilities it is necessary that you are effective at self-leadership.

What exactly is self leadership?

There are dozens of traits, attitudes or skills when it comes to leadership, but I believe that there are four vital ones that when they are a part of a person’s makeup they will lead with success.

But first – There are over 450 definitions of leadership here is just one – the position of being the leader or being in charge of an organization, country, etc.  But I believe this definition is limited and only views leadership as a position.  I feel strongly that leadership is a mindset and not a title. Anyone – a parent, teacher, nurse, administrative assistance or laborer can have a leadership mindset even though they might not lead anyone – yes they might influence them – for better or worse – but in the end we all lead in some way in an area in our life.

For over ten years I have been a volunteer greeter at my church.  I don’t lead anyone but I can choose to interpret my role as just someone who says good morning to everyone or I can see my role in a far more important way; I can contribute to whether visitors ever return.  I can make people feel welcome or not and I can create a relationship that is grounded in respect or not.  Here are the four traits.

Consistency – When we vacillate we create confusion.   When we hesitate we contribute to a lack of trust.  When we fail to decide we lose the respect of others.  When we fail to admit mistakes we send the message that we are perfect or insecure.  Leaders want agreement but not at the expense of their values, beliefs and personal philosophy.  They are not afraid of conflict or confrontation.  Yes, they want others to buy in to their actions and decisions but not at the cost of a loss of self-esteem. They are not driven by political correctness but respect for others.

When they decide or act – they follow-through and stick with a plan or action until it is successful or has proven to be inferior or it lacks long term value. Their messages are always the same and don’t depend on their audience – whether a customer, employee, member of a board or anyone else.

Integrity – Integrity and trust go hand in hand as a quality for self-leadership.  The question we must ask ourselves when we consider doing what is NOT right vs. what IS right, is – can I handle getting caught?  Is the price worth it?  How will I react to getting caught?  Wouldn’t it just be easier to deal in truth?  All the time?  The answer is yes, so why do people misrepresent, lie, tell little innocent fibs etc.?  I don’t know.  We are all guilty – at least one time in our lives and most of us many times – of shading the truth with what we feel is a justifiable cause. Is this wrong?  I am not a moralist. But I do believe that character and integrity are related and that anyone who hopes to lead must have integrity.


Passion – Passion is the great equalizer.  It can make up for a lack of experience and knowledge.  I am not suggesting that you not develop your knowledge or experience – only that until you do, your passion will be questioned by others as a weak belief in yourself, your mission and/or your purpose.

Passion is different from enthusiasm.  The old outworn cliché says “Act enthusiastic and you will become enthusiastic.”  I have never subscribed to this philosophy.  The reason is that if enthusiasm is an act which you use when things are going well, how do you behave when your life is falling apart? Are you just as enthusiastic about failure, more problems than you deserve and any number of disappointments, frustrations and adversities?

Passion is not an act.  It is a way of believing.  It is woven into your cellular structure just as much as you’re DNA

Resolve – What is resolve?  Is it persistence, commitment, dogged determination or just plain old self-motivation?  Don’t have an answer to that, folks.  I do know, however, that it costs more to fail than to keep on keeping on.  There is a point in every relationship, career, project or goal where our resolve to go on is tested. 


Leaders realize that they have to break through this barrier before they can enjoy the real fruits of their labor.  Quitters, on the other hand, give up at the first sign of resistance or adversity. ##

Tim Connor