If You Can’t Lead Yourself Well You Sure as Hell Can’t Lead Anyone Else Well

The 5 Levels of Leadership
First Rule of Leading = Lead Yourself Well.

The Results Group Executive Leadership Programme: Level 1 – Self Leadership

It sounds pretty obvious when we think about it doesn’t it. If we suck at leading ourselves then chances are we will suck at leading others well.  I mean if we can’t get clear about what we want to achieve in our own life (work, personal & family) and actively develop the skills and knowledge to get there then how will we be able to influence others to follow us?

This requires us to take the time needed to be clear what this means personally & the reality is we are often better at helping others sort the chaos of their lives rather than getting clarity on our own.

Leadership requires any leader to role model behaviour 24/7, whether they know that consciously or not. The people we lead watch us closely, notice gaps between what we say and what we do & are constantly evaluating whether they should trust. Trust is the currency of leadership.

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If we are leading ourselves well then we are committed in an ongoing way to the following;

  • Knowing & Living our own Values: We know what our personal values are and what is important and our behaviour reflects them. We are clear about what is right and wrong, how we want to live, who we want to associate with and it is reflected not only at work but in all areas of our life. Our values are connected to those of the team or organisation we lead. This means we need to have defined them.
  • Being Authentic in all we do: The gap between what we say and what we actually do will be tiny (a non event). People very quickly see when these are not aligned and it erodes trust. A leader is a role model 24/7. This doesn’t mean we can’t make mistakes and learn from them (in fact admitting mistakes will build trust) but on the big stuff everything must be aligned & more often than not we have to get it right. People look at what we do & the actions we take very closely. In the ever changing Business and Technology environment, collaboration and authenticity are needed to enable teams to adapt. I love the quote “we become like the 5 people we spend most of our time with.” Choose carefully and be consistent in what we do.
  • Being Self Confident: Confidence builds trust especially in times of uncertainty. If we are leading ourself well we will know our strengths and weaknesses & will continually seek self improvement, new ideas, new tools and frameworks. Confidence comes from experience, knowledge and practice. To lead yourself well & others you need to consciously learn and practice the skills you need. Leaders who are confident in their own ability (not arrogant) are noticed by and inspire others. Confidence is at the heart of inspiration.
  • Remain Grounded: Staying true to our values, being humble and connected with who we are and where we have come from is important. This embraces all aspects of our life: friends, family, interests, beliefs, sport, hobbies. In fact all that makes us who we are at this point in time. Remembering and learning from all the hundreds of mistakes along the way & letting those we lead make there own mistakes will make us a better leader. To be authentic it is important to remain true to ourself & our life story. We are all on a different journey. Know, accept and love your own! Have a great network of mentors (people who want to see you succeed) and ask them constantly for help, feedback & advice.
  • Get Better at Being Self Aware: The best leaders are very self aware. We need to understand the impact we have on others & on groups we interact with. Some of this will be positive & some will be negative. Profiling can assist, 360 feedback, regular verbal feedback from our team, family, mentors & friends will help us to be more self aware. This in turn will help with the other points above. Self assessment, regular reflection around what we have learnt & how we could do better in the future are essential elements of better self awareness. When any leader is having a bad day it is important to ensure the whole team/organisation does not have a bad day. We need to constantly develop our skills to play to strengths & to overcome or negate weaknesses.

As leaders seek to consciously get better in their work role it always starts with a commitment to better “Self Leadership.” It is actually pretty arrogant to think we can successfully lead and influence others if we can’t lead ourself well in all aspects of our life. This of course does not mean that things always go well. We all have periods of our life when things can get out of balance. There is however plenty of research around that backs up the need to commit to self leadership, ongoing learning and being clear in what we stand for as a person before we can really develop as a high performance leader.

A wise person said to me once “It is all about balance and if any one area of your life gets out of balance it will have a big impact on your ability to lead and function at a high level.”

What do you do to develop your “Self Leadership” skills each day/week/year?

The 5 Levels of Leadership: The Results Group Executive Leader Program

The 5 Levels of Leadership
The 5 levels of leadership. There are others but these are the common levels faced in Business today and each requires conscious application of differing skills.

In 2014 The Results Group launched the Executive Leader Program and currently we coach a range of High Performance CEO’s as they seek to consciously develop and grow their ability to influence those they lead. Leadership means many things to different people but in the context of the ever changing Business environment we face in it relates to;

  • Constantly Learning the Skills needed to Lead in Complexity: Leadership requires learned skills and conscious application and this is rarely taught. Some people may by luck have great mentors or attend courses but my experience shows the skills required across the different levels of leadership are rarely identified nor approached differently.
  • Making our Business Better: By consciously developing high performance teams and a culture in which people thrive, collaborate and execute the important things. Attracting and retaining top people will in turn mean the client experience of your products and services will generate massive brand loyalty.
  • Leading Change With Certainty: It is the role of any leader to be able to navigate uncertainty and provide a clear direction even when that direction may not be immediately obvious.
  • Influencing The Activity of Others: This requires a leader to influence up, down, internally & externally. It is about getting things done (execution) through the enthusiastic cooperation of your people.
  • Setting and Adjusting the Pace: A sense of urgency is important and this changes based upon the tempo of change and influences such as client needs, the market environment, competitor moves, economic influences & the needs of the Business (Shareholders).

High Performance Leadership requires a culture of constant learning, reflection, self evaluation and adaptability to change. Those who consciously accept the challenge become proactive planners, mentors, change champions and transformational leaders. Those who don’t experience the world overtaking them miss the big opportunity and become very reactive in their role.

Over the coming months I hope to open the conversation around leadership at each of these levels. I certainly do not proclaim to be an expert in this area and indeed it would be a brave person to do so. My experience over 35 years of leading people & studying the subject is that I know enough to confidently say it is indeed a lifelong journey. One in which you learn from every leader (good & bad) you come across and excellence is an aspiration to constantly strive for. Excellence in any field requires years of committed & conscious practice, training & coaching.

Certainly it is an exciting and challenging journey to be on. Leading in the constantly changing Business environment is hard work and requires bravery, energy and passion. It is about making “things happen” rather than talking about it.

A question for you: How do you train to be a better leader? What have you learnt in the last 3 months/6 months/1 year?