Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2Timothy 2:15)

Continuing with our devotional series on Leadership Attributes this Monday, we look at the counter-intuitive truth that the Leaders primary task is “Self-Leadership”.

Although most of us think the majority of a leader’s time should be spent on leading ‘down’, to our subordinates – that is a misconception.  Leadership research has shown that “the management of self should occupy at least 50% of our time and the best of our ability.”1 My first reaction upon reading this was ‘no way!  I felt self-leadership should not consume that much time.  But as I read the research and considered the self-leadership activities and the consequences of not practicing them, I began to realize that to NOT give a priority of time to self-leadership was to risk ship-wrecking my leadership effectiveness.

I suggest there are 4 key self-leadership activities:

  1. The Self as Coach:
    We are familiar with business or life coaches who are skilled at asking probing questions and guiding us in our thinking and activities. But what about your own ability to self-coach?  The following reflections do not need a professional coach:

    • Am I clear on my intentions? – you may hide your true motivations from a business coach, but it is more difficult to fool yourself. Are your intentions driven by pure and honourable motives or are they being driven by less than pure sources?
    • What are my triggers? – being mindful of what things can trigger you. Are you easily angered by other’s questions?  Do you withhold information from your team due to insecurity?  What situations make you become defensive?  Becoming aware of these triggers will boost respect for your leadership.
    • Do I truly listen to others? Or do I check out early as I am just waiting for the other to finish so I can communicate my opinion?
  2. Am I clear on my values?
    One business leader shared with me once that he received some great advice from a mentor just before joining a major international company. The advice went something like this, “You must become clear on your own values and decide before you join how far you are willing to go as the corporation attempts to mold you to their own culture.”  Good self-leadership is being clear on your values beforehand so that you are not making decisions on the fly as to how far you will bend them to suit a situation.  Unclear values are easily bent or watered down.
  1. Leaning back on the dinosaur’s tail.
    This is a great concept in Coaching circles. The huge tail of the Tyrannosaurus
    provides balance and stability to the dinosaur.  Consider and draw upon your ‘dinosaur tail’ leadership learnings.  Past experience, wisdom gained over the years, the total accumulation of lessons learned through mistakes, pain as well as successes can provide mature stability to your leadership.
  2. Self Confidence.
    No team wants to follow a leader that lacks self-confidence. Engage in reflections that build your self-confidence.:

    • Am I sure of my calling as a Christian?
    • Is my pace sustainable? An unsustainable pace can lead to stress, health issues and even susceptibility to addictions or moral failure.  All of which are destroyers of self-confidence.
    • Have I dealt with unconfessed sin in my life? (Nothing destroys self-confidence in a leader faster than unconfessed sin).
    • Am I aware of my ‘shadow’ issues? Those weaknesses or blind spots that are the shadow side of your strengths.  For example, the decisive leader who sometimes fails to consult, or the empathic leader who sometimes fails to act decisively etc.  When people react to your shadow side, it can challenge your self-confidence if you are not aware that ALL leaders have shadow issues that can be dealt with once they are brought to self-awareness.

As you begin to invest time in self-leadership activities, I believe you will be better able to achieve the challenge that Paul presented to his mentee – Timothy.  To present yourself to God as one whose leadership is approved!

1 Bill Hybels Courageous Leadership, p. 183

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums –