Leading is personal.
Yes, leadership is about bringing out the best in people and helping them work together to achieve common goals. But leading is even more personal than that.
Leading is personal to the leader. Each person leads uniquely. You cannot become a leader by reading a book or just doing what someone else tells you to do. Everyone leads by example; leadership is do it yourself.
The first person you ever lead is yourself.
The leaders who inspire me know themselves. They lead me by sharing their deepest selves with me. We connect around the values we share, and their leadership is deeper than titles and positions. They have done the hard work it takes to overcome obstacles and distractions, and I trust the wisdom and judgment they have gained. Their leadership is centered much more on Why? than on How? or When?
The work and time it takes us to know ourselves are not indulgent, and not superflous. We do not necessarily become stronger, better leaders by spending time leading other people. We become the leaders we have the potential to be by learning to lead ourselves.
We learn to lead ourselves by coming to recognize and appreciate who we are. We get to know our abilities and when we need some help. We become aware of how we can bring out the best in ourselves, even when we are tired or afraid.
I am not a very easy person to lead. I am very good at convincing people I am following them, especially when I am not. I can be stubborn, impatient, and reluctant to trust. When I learn how to lead myself well, I am learning lessons that help me lead others as well.
How are you leading yourself today?
What lessons do you have for yourself?