The starting place of developing the skill to become and remain an effective leader is with self development or self improvement. The fact is, if you can’t lead yourself, you will find it an exceptional challenge to lead other people. Great leadership starts and ends with self leadership.
You see, leadership is not an exact science. It is in fact the embodiment of the leader and can never be separated from the individual. So if you want to become a leader or you want to become a better leader, you have to focus continually on self improvement. That is becoming a better you.
So how can you become a better you? What areas should you focus on and how do these areas impact on your leadership?
Here are 6 Areas of Self Improvement For Effective Leadership. I have adapted these from Zig Ziglar’s ‘Wheel Of Life’.
Author James Allen in his motivational best-selling classic, ‘As A Man Thinketh’ wrote, ‘A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.’
The obvious place to start any type of self improvement is with your mindset. Those people who are able to break free from pre-conceived ideas, from their stale thinking about themselves, their circumstance, about other people. These are the people whom others will want to follow.
To change your mindset, challenge your philosophy, challenge your perceptions, ask challenging questions of you values, your goals and your vision. Challenge the filters through which you view the world and everything around you.
Some of these will stand up to truth and others will fall. Keep those that stand up and change those that fall. A change in your mindset will affect all the other areas of your life.
A change in your mindset will affect all the other areas of your life.
Family relationship are, most often the relationships which are at the heart of who we are, what we do and how we react and respond to circumstance. Good family relationships will generally make for better leaders.
I know from personal experience, as do so many other people, that families are also the most challenging area when it comes to building and maintaining good relationships. There are some circumstances where it is impossible, but I encourage you to continually look for opportunities to make your family relationships better.
How is your relationship with you spouse or partner?
How can you make it better, even if it is great?
How good are you as a role model?
Do you set the tone in your family?
Do you build your family up or tear them down?
This area is about your physical, emotional and mental health and well being. We all know that the healthier we are in these areas, the better we function on almost every level. It is a generally accepted fact that the better physical shape we are in, the better our cognitive abilities are. We think faster and clearer when we are healthy and fit and people generally response better to us.
So, are you getting the exercise your body needs?
Are you eating sufficient nutritious food?
Are you taking care of your emotional well being?
Are you in control of your thoughts and attitudes?
How can you make these thing better?
This is a difficult area to talk about improving as so many people tell me they are not materialistic, but this is not about materialism. This is more about freedom. Research has shown that people in leadership roles, who have no financial pressures, are better able to focus and are less distracted.
But financial freedom is not restricted to what you earn or have in the bank. Financial freedom is equally about how you utilise the resources you have.
What are your spending habits?
Do you spend more than you earn?
Does your income cover your costs?
How can you increase your income and decrease your spending?
Do you utilise your resources wisely?
As humans we are social creature and crave the company of other people. You, however, get to chose who you hang out with. Choose wisely.
Do your friends build you up or put you down?
Do your friends have the same values as you?
Where do you go to find friendship?
Do you raise the social bar or do you lower it?
This is the last area to consider not because it is less important than the others areas, but because this is a combination of all. Your legacy is the impact you have on people’s lives and how you are remembered today, tomorrow, next week, next year, in 10 years time. Your legacy defines the contribution you make and have made. It is also the mark you leave behind.
So how would you want people to remember you?
Is your contribution meaningful?
What is it you would want people to say about you in the years to come?