Self-leadership more important than ever

2021-10-19 11:54




Stress management


Being a good leader of yourself has become increasingly important now that the individual has more freedom and responsibility than in the past. And with the corona pandemic resulting in people working from home, self-leadership is even more important. Self-leadership is about the ability to decide what is important in life and at work, and then take responsibility for one’s own development. To do that requires self-awareness and self-acceptance as well as basic energy and motivation. It’s something anyone can learn, and it does not preclude the possibility of outside help – quite the contrary.

In modern society, a lot depends on the individual. We have more freedom than ever before, but with that freedom comes responsibility and sometimes stress. There is a clear expectation of self-realisation, but we have to find our own way there – no one seems to be able to give us a map and a compass. We must therefore act as leaders of our own lives. It’s called self-leadership. The good news is that anyone can become a skilled self-leader!

Working at home due to the corona pandemic has made the issue more current than ever. The individual has been given even greater responsibility for his or her own work, well-being and personal development. That increases the need for real knowledge about how to lead oneself. If you’re excited about getting to grips with your self-leadership right now, you’re far from alone.

“Research shows that individuals who practice systematic self-leadership are more likely to perform well, both privately and in the workplace,” says Jan Sandgren, Head of Content at Zebrain.

In other words, self-leadership is an important characteristic for all people today. It’s also an ability that anyone can develop, just like any skill and, despite the prefix self, you don’t have to go it alone. All of the qualities connected with self-leadership can be developed with the help of coaching and outside support.

Jan adds that it takes a certain amount of self-leadership to be able to embrace coaching: “Self-leadership is crucial for coaching to have optimal effects and ROI [Return on Investment].”

Self-awareness and basic energy
Self-leadership is thus about the ability to grasp what is important to you in your career and in your life. It is about taking responsibility for your personal development and your own well-being – you deserve to feel good, and you yourself can make sure that happens. You do this by focusing on the factors that you can really influence – and also by accepting the factors you can’t influence.

In order to reach such insights, you must first of all explore and reflect on your own values, feelings and driving forces, so that you become aware of how you yourself function. Forbes  and  Thrive  Global have written about this. Self-awareness is the key to authenticity and self-acceptance, and the opposite of a censored and false self-image.

However, when we look at and reflect on ourselves, the picture is full of blind spots, of course, so it is important to dare to accept help from outside when developing your self-leadership. With the help of a coach, you can discover good sides (and downsides) of yourself that you had not seen or had not wanted to see before. We always need the help of others to be able to see ourselves as we really are. It opens up fantastic opportunities for development.

Self-awareness is not enough, however, self-leadership is also about finding a positive basic energy. By basic energy, we mean the absence of harmful stress in our lives. Stress itself does not have to be harmful; on the contrary, it can be healthy and positive – if we only experience the stress for short periods of time, and in between have the opportunity for rest and recovery.

The ability to take care of and be empathetic with yourself is therefore an important factor in self-leadership. It also means that you may need help identifying harmful and destructive patterns in your own life. Perfectionism and the desire to please everyone are two examples of behaviours that can damage a person’s basic energy, and that one may need to work through to achieve strong self-leadership.

Self-leadership has no end goal

Another crucial factor in self-leadership is motivation. To lead yourself to the place you want to be in life, you have to be motivated and partly aware of what motivates you (again, self-awareness!). It is also important to realise that there are several different types of motivation. There are “extinguishing factors”, which are the factors that must be in place for us not to be demotivated. For example, it may be that we need to feel social community and a clarity of what we do, otherwise motivation dies completely. But there are also “ignition factors”, which increase our motivation, sometimes explosively – such as meaningfulness, independence and positive feedback. What makes your motivation “explode”?

“Psychologist Sharon Parker is one of many who have shown that inner motivation is necessary for self-leadership. But that is not enough for success”, Jan says. “To succeed in professional life, it is also important that the organisation has clear goals and clear requirements for the individual.”

With self-awareness, basic energy and motivation, you can lay the foundation for good self-leadership – then it’s about consciously choosing how to use your time and where to focus your attention. The best self-leaders accept themselves but always see their own development potential – and do not hesitate to help others develop it.

Good self-leadership has no end goal, but is characterised by a constant curiosity, passion and willingness to learn new things. This attitude also increases the likelihood of personal well-being, good performance and self-realisation – both in career and in life.

Jan Sandgren’s tips for succeeding at self-leadership

  • Setting your own clear goals in interaction with the surroundings concerned (Mans & Sims 1991, Mans 1992, Neck &Houghton 2006, Marques-Quinteiro &Curral 2012)
  • Your own, clear, positive feedback and positive consequences (Mans &sims 1991, Neck &Houghton 2006)
  • Your own, clear feedback – with correction of unwanted behaviours to raise awareness of what works and doesn’t work (Mans &sims 1991, Neck &Houghton 2006, D’Intino et al. 2007). Punishment only negatively affects performance.
  • Long-term continuous follow-up (Mans 1992, Neck and Houghton 2006)

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