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Malcolm Levene


9 Ways to Be a Self Leader

Posted: 09/17/11 12:50 PM ET

Over a number of years, I've worked with and for male and female business leaders. The individuals I both respect and admire tend to lead with humility, a reined-in ego, a healthy dose of self belief and passion. They also self-lead by making difficult decisions, taking risks and owning everything they do.

In essence, they take full responsibility for their actions and the impact they may have. This type of person began their journey into leadership long before the role seemed possible. They led themselves carefully into the position they have attained.

Self leadership entails being the person you envision being, long before you think it likely. In my coaching practice, I work with numerous men and women who are hoping to find a purpose in their lives. One way to access this aspiration is to contemplate specifically what it is we want.

A recent female client, after three telephone coaching sessions, told me she realized her goal was to be happy. She said this, yet was uncomfortable admitting it, as it might show her in a "fluffy" light. I believe that a desire to being happy is a very worthy aspiration. Knowing that you want to be happy gives you clarity and purpose, two very valuable commodities.

When we have discovered our purpose, be that commercially minded or otherwise, we have the opportunity to lead ourselves to the outcomes we require. I'm reminded of shopping and customer service. Customer service here in the U.K, generally speaking, is not as good as we would like it to be.

My former retail establishment garnered a reputation for providing the gold standard in customer service for a large number of years. Each member of my sales team 'owned' their responsibility. They took care of my business as if it were their own. They chose to lead themselves to being the best they could be.

Today, for the most part, leading yourself to the future you want, rather than being led to the future someone else sees for you, is less common. When you are not being seen to self-lead, the message you send is that you need guidance, help and direction. The people I'm talking about never send that message, although they are willing to ask for help, when and if they need it.

They tend to be highly aware of the impact they make, both to customers, co-workers, their boss and anyone who will see them in action. Their reputation is all-important to them -- and this is the mark of a good leader. They care deeply about how they are perceived, thereby taking full responsibility for their behaviours and actions.

Whether you work in a retail establishment, run a charity or sit behind a computer all day, you'll either be seen as someone who has leadership potential or not. You'll be noticed in ways that can serve you and your purpose. The effort you make to go the extra mile is vital, as it will enable you to stand out from the crowd.

Customers want the person who is offering a service or a product, be that a doctor or a flight attendant, to provide them with the kind of attention that 'knocks their socks off.' Giving your all to establish yourself and leave your mark in the best way possible will entail effort, sacrifice and an ability to let go of anything that doesn't serve your purpose.

Here are nine tips to help you to self-lead:

1. Establish your purpose.

2. Focus on what makes you happy.

3. Take full responsibility for all your actions.

4. Be passionate, optimistic and brave.

5. Make efforts to continually improve yourself.

6. Envision your future as specifically as you can.

7. Be enthusiastic, even when you don't really feel it.

8. Never, ever give up.

9. Carry a healthy self belief.

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