The 3 Competencies of Effective Leadership
The three core competencies of outstanding leadership are; self-leadership, self-awareness, and self-management.
Did you know you are already a leader even if you aren’t in a leadership role in the workplace? That’s because right now, you are the CEO of your life. But not everyone leads themselves very well. They allow others to take over and control the inner leader in them.
For many, they place their future in another person’s hands. It might be their boss, their spouse, their parents, or someone else again. They listen too much to the advice of the unqualified. They ask the opinion of their best friends’ next-door neighbors’ uncle’s son’s friend. They don’t realize their future doesn’t need to depend on being someone else’s follower.
Your future belongs to you.
You are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul.
Leadership is Learned Behavior
Somewhere along the line, you learned what leadership is or isn’t. Leadership is learned behavior.
Take a line through your parents and your parents-parents and their parenting style. Often what happens is we follow the same patterns of behaviors we inherited from our parents. If you are brought up in a negative household where you received daily does of negativity, chances are this is how you approach parenting.
If you were brought up believing all you can expect in life is to survive and not thrive, chances are this is your default mechanism.
If you were promoted to a supervisor role or a management role, chances are your leadership style will be similar to the previous leaders you worked under.
You were programmed that way. If you can be programed, it means you can also reprogram your negative limiting beliefs.
Now let’s look at what it means to lead yourself.
When we think of leadership, we often put it into the perspective of running a business, being the captain of a sports team, or even running a country.
In business, we say the company leader is the boss, the owner, or the CEO. Yes, they are in a leadership role, but it doesn’t necessarily make them effective as a leader.
There are many ways to define leadership, just as the word leadership means different things to different people. Simplistically, leadership is the art of getting people (or yourself) to do something they have either never thought possible or didn’t want to do. Effective leadership means influencing people to get things done (or getting yourself to do things) to a standard and quality above the norm and doing it willingly.
Leading yourself is the art of defining your future with a compelling vision, living life guided by your values, supported by your goals.
Peter Drucker, in his book “The Leader of the Future,” sums up leadership as follows:
“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
In the context of leading yourself, this means you are both the leader and the follower.
In his book Twenty-One Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell sums up his definition of leadership as “influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
In the context of leading yourself, this means committing to your vision for the future, using your values as a guiding compass, and taking daily action towards your goals. You influence yourself every day with your thoughts, actions, and words.
Warren Bennis’s definition of leadership is focused much more on the individual capability of the leader: “Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realize your leadership potential.”
In the context of leading yourself, this also means knowing yourself. Creating a vision, communicating that vision to the significant others in your life, building trust with those in your inner circle, and taking effective action to realize your leadership potential.
Self-Leadership is Complex
Leadership in the traditional sense is a complex activity involving:
- A process of influence.
- Finding others who are both leaders and followers.
- Developing Integrity, trust, commitment, and communication.
- The enhancement of supporter cohesion and the reinforcement of change.
Leadership and the Motivation Factor
Leaders find a way of focusing and motivating a group of people to enable them to achieve both individual goals and the goals of an organization. Leaders know how to bring people together so that they function collaboratively. Leaders also know how to motivate others to perform at their optimum by working through emotions and acting as emotional compasses.
Achievement starts with a vision for the future. It’s where you see yourself having achieved all your goals. But no one can achieve their vision and goals with the support and the help of others. It could be a life coach, advisor, mentor, or someone else again.
If your vision is to run a successful and profitable business, for instance, then you also need that same support. It could be a combination of a business coach, mentor, advisor, and employees.
If you can’t motivate yourself and others to support you, you have a lonely ride ahead.
Leadership and the Emotional Factor
Exceptional leaders find ways to understand and improve how they handle both their own emotions and the emotions of others. When leaders drive emotions positively, they bring out the best in their followers. They ignite people’s passion, inspire the best in them, and create resonance.
Exceptional leaders also know how to balance individual needs and goals with that of a team. Without leadership, it is difficult to mold a group of individuals into a team.
If you can’t control your emotions, you will have difficulty finding followers who buy into your dreams.
Leading Yourself = Self-Leadership
Suppose leaders find a way of focusing and motivating others to achieve goals. In that case, your role in leading yourself is finding the right motivation within to achieve your personal and professional goals.
Before you can effectively lead yourself, it is essential to understand where people and processes meet.
Chaos or Stagnation
Leadership and management are two very distinct systems of operation. Sometimes both functions overlap. What that means is, leadership and management are like both sides of a coin, each side has its specific functions and characteristics, yet both are critical to your personal and professional success.
The roles of leadership and management are often blurred.
There is a distinct difference between being a leader and a manager. A business leader is responsible for the future direction of an organization and the processes that produce economic results. Equally, they are also responsible for their people and the environment in which they work.
When organizations balance both leadership and management, they are well equipped to adapt to change and meet challenges along the way. Many organizations lack one or the other. When leadership exists without management, the organization is subject to chaos.
Growth at any cost is indicative of leadership without management. It’s a function of ready, fire aim! When management exists without leadership, an organization doesn’t adapt and grow.
Organizations are overstaffed with managers, and few leaders lack enough leadership to help them deal with constant change resulting in stagnation.
What does this mean for you as the CEO of your life?
This means that you need to understand the times it’s necessary to lead yourself and the times you need to manage your results. That’s because of the difference between leading yourself and managing yourself.
The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager
Leaders and managers in business are not the same, yet the same person can perform both functions. Let’s compare the two.
- Leaders provide the direction by developing the organizational vision and communicating it to the employees, and inspiring them to achieve it.
- Managers follow established policies and procedures and directions set down by leaders.
What this means for self-leadership is to provide your future direction with a compelling vision. Outline your personal goals and aspirations for the future.
- Leaders get their authority from their followers, not from a title or position.
- Managers get their authority and power by their title and position.
What this means for self-leadership is you are the CEO of your life. You need to be empowered to make your own decisions to build the future of your design, not someone else’s design.
- Leaders focus on directing the function of management.
- Managers focus on planning, organizing, directing others, and controlling the environment.
What this means for self-leadership is directing yourself to take daily action steps towards achieving your goals (self-management).
- Leaders focus on people, listening, building relationships, teamwork, inspiring, motivating, and persuading others.
- Managers deal with the technical and day-to-day operational dimensions in an organization. Managers lay down the structure and delegate authority and responsibility.
What this means for self-leadership is you can’t achieve your vision and goals without the help of others. The key skills you need are selling skills, influencing skills, and people skills. You need to elicit supporters on your team.
- Leaders build capacity and capacity in their team. They evaluate individuals as having potential and align them towards achieving the organization’s vision.
- Managers keep people accountable by measuring and evaluating their performance and providing feedback.
What this means for self-leadership is investing in yourself and building your expertise. You also need to keep yourself accountable. If you are a chronic procrastinator, you will need a life coach or business coach to keep you accountable.
- Leaders operate in a proactive space.
- Managers operate in a more reactive space.
What this means for self-leadership is to be proactive in going after what you want.
Leadership is Not a Title
Owning a business does not automatically make you a leader or manager.
You might own or manage a business; it doesn’t automatically make you a leader or a manager; at best it makes you a boss. In this case, people who are new to business ownership or management frequently think their ‘appointed position’ or ownership of a business entitles them to be the leader and that all they should do is to “tell their subordinates to do something”, and they will respond accordingly.
This is not necessarily the case. In fact, the brighter the subordinate, they are less likely to follow orders from you blindly even if you are the boss.
What this means to self-leadership is, that even if you don’t work for yourself as a business owner, you still work for yourself as the CEO of your life. You can still lead yourself while working for others.
Self-management is the art of taking the leader-in-you and transforming your vision, values, and goals into action.
Lots of people can set goals. Take a line through new year’s resolutions and the false promises people make to themselves. A huge percentage of these new year’s resolutions don’t make it past the first week, let alone the first month. There are two significant reasons why they fail. Firstly, it’s because they don’t have a compelling vision to keep them motivated. Secondly, they don’t follow through on their plans which is where self-leadership and self-management merge.
Self-management is all about keeping the promises you make to yourself, and that means taking action. Pick up the phone and enroll in new training courses. Go after that job or promotion you want. Build that business you’ve been dreaming about. It’s only by taking affirmative action you get results.
When you work for others, it doesn’t mean that becomes the sum total of your life. If you have aspirations to move into a higher position, you need to prove you have both leadership and management skills.
By investing in yourself, over time, you become more effective by developing the requisite leadership skills by learning how to be a leader. Firstly, you must earn the trust and respect of your inner circle before you can exercise significant authority and influence over them.
As the CEO of your life, then you need to demonstrate to others that you can manage yourself. This is demonstrated through your actions, competence, and the ability to get things done. Once you have earned the right to lead, you build followers.
Effective self-leadership and self-management mean recognizing that what you know now is very little in comparison to what they still need to learn. That is the third core competency of successfully leading yourself into the future, self-awareness.
To be more proficient in pursuing and achieving your personal and professional goals, you must be open to new ideas, insights, and revelations that can lead to better ways to accomplishing goals. This continuous learning process can be exercised through engaging yourself in a constant dialogue with peers, advisors, consultants, coaches, and anyone else you need in your inner circle.
Leading yourself is not simply a matter of style, or following some ‘how-to’ guides or recipes. Ineffectiveness of self-leadership seldom results from a lack of know-how. It’s more a result of a lack of self-awareness and self-management.
On a Final Note
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