Growing Self-Leadership

We've been talking all month about self-leadership. We have stressed the importance of leading ourselves. But how does one go about becoming a powerful self-leader. How do you get trained in self-leadership?

Traditional leadership training creates self-leaders only as a secondary result. Many times we train people to follow the steps to becoming a leader. If you have to follow the program, what are you leading? If you tell someone that they should be more responsible, when they become more responsible, did they do it because you told them? Are they following you or are they leading?

Here are my 5 steps to identify, encourage, fertilize and grow self-leaders in your organization:

  1. Identify the gap between what-is and what-ought-to-be. The tension between the two is critical.
  2. Encourage people who might be able to affect the problem to take responsibility.
  3. Provide resources and guidance as requested or needed while they begin to close the gap.
  4. Provide insight, coaching and support during and after the process so the self-leader learns for the next time.
  5. Publicly endorse the behavior of individuals who take steps 1-4.

You can teach people how to identify gaps. And you can train on problem-solving.  Beyond that, individuals need to take responsibility for the gap. Leading the horse to water and even talking to them about their thirst, doesn't necessarily inspire them to drink. This is the very point at which some argue that leaders are born, rather than made. Learn to let the tension build so your growing leaders can emerge.  Real character-based leaders want to bring their best performance and personality to work.  If you always tell them what to do, you kill that creativity.  Give them the chance to apply their own creativity without direction.  Sure, it can be scary for us control-freak types, but wouldn't it be wonderful if your team did things the best way without constantly being told what to do?  Take a chance and give your self-leaders a chance to shine.  The best ones will relish the opportunity.

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