The question seems so simple but the answer is often anything but. You may be one of those who can solidly answer yes or no immediately. When I asked myself this question, I can honestly say that the answer didn’t lie on either extremity but somewhere in the great abyss in between. I’ve made some questionable decisions in my life (haven’t we all?!) that make me question my abilities to be a leader but with lots of reflection I’ve determined that my mistakes make up a small part of a much greater whole.
I started thinking about leadership – there are a lot of books written about leadership (all of them excellent) – and what leadership looks like to me. And I realized that if I want to lead a team, I need to lead myself first. But what does that look like in practicality? Behold! The top three things you need to know to lead yourself first!
embrace your humanity
This is the biggest way to impact your ability to see yourself as a leader, in my (very) humble opinion. We all make mistakes. We all have bad days. We all lose our temper at some point. Embrace those moments because they are integral threads in the fabric of who YOU are. That doesn’t give you broad licence to be a raging jerk – to yourself, to your team, to anyone. It simply means that you are human and you are going to make mistakes. But you need to be kind to yourself when you make them.
Made a mistake? Here’s how to lead yourself first through it:
Acknowledge it – take ownership of the mistake. A leader will accept responsibility for something going wrong or acknowledge their role in the conflict/error/issue, even if they aren’t directly responsible.
Course correct – determine the actions needed to make it right. This might be in the form of an apology. It could be a lot of different things – there is unfortunately no catch all fix here. But don’t be an ostrich and hide your head in the sand – that’s not leadership.
Learn the lesson – I hear my mother’s voice in head when I type that. But darn if she wasn’t spot on! There is always a lesson to be learned. Make sure you look for it. Keep digging until you find it. It’s there.
Dwell on the lesson, not on the outcome – Once more for the people in the back DWELL ON THE LESSON, NOT ON THE OUTCOME. Stop focusing on what happened. Start focusing on why it happened and you’ll be better prepared for the next time.
When a team sees you leading with authenticity and vulnerability, they are more likely to see you as a leader; you are more likely to see you as a leader.
Take care – of you.
Cue sappy music here – any sappy music will do. It’s time to talk self care. And since I’m talking to introverts (just an assumption since you’re here on this particular blog for introverts) – this is incredibly important.
You need to make down time a priority. Schedule it in if you have to. If you do not take adequate time to recharge in a way that energizes you, you will not function at 100%.
The most important person in your life is not your significant other, your child, your dog, your boss, your parent, your anyone else. The most important person in your life is YOU. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Take care of you. Watch a movie, go for a run, take a nap. We don’t really care what it is. Find a slice of time in your day to care for your needs. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Build up your tribe
Final bit of wisdom: get on the bottom of the pyramid. Figuratively speaking, of course. A true leader is an amazing cheerleader.
A real leader will lift up those around them. You can do this by finding the good in people. I’ve yet to meet someone that didn’t have at least one good quality (I know – sometimes you have to look really hard). When you see the goodness in someone, speak it. Tell them you noticed and are grateful.
This also applies to you. Lift yourself up as well – know your strengths and be proud of them. You don’t need to be boastful to show the world that you know you’ve got some great things to offer. People will want to follow someone who is confident in their skills and what they have to offer the world.
So go forth and lead yourself first and watch how the world changes around you!
Do you have any ideas on how to lead yourself? Share them over on our Facebook Page!
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