In the lush gardens of professional success, self-leadership is the most potent seed you can plant. This is especially true for leaders, hence why the concept is the foundation of my coaching programs. Just as a gardener tills the soil, nurturing and guiding the growth of their garden, so too must you cultivate the landscape of your actions, thoughts, and emotions. Self-leadership is the sun, water, and soil that nurtures your authentic expression, empowering you to flourish and reach new heights in professional life.
When coaching leaders, the question often arises: How do we harness the power of self-leadership to cultivate a path to professional success?
In this post, we will explore the strategies needed to empower self-leadership and how nurturing this crucial aspect can pave your way to authentic success.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Terrain: What is Self-Leadership?
Before digging into the strategies needed to harness the power of self-leadership, we must first agree on a standard definition. A quick Google search will reveal the following:
Self-leadership is the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feeling, and actions towards your objective/sAndrew Bryant (Self-Leaderhip Website)
Self-leadership is the ability to lead yourself to achieve your personal and professional goals and objectives, while also helping the company or organization you work for to be successfulIndeed Editorial Team
Self-leadership is the practice of understanding who you are, identifying your desired experiences, and intentionally guiding yourself toward them.Dr. Malike Neuhaus (Positive Psychology)
For our purposes, we use a combination of the above and go with the definition that self-leadership is the practice of understanding and managing oneself, akin to being the captain of your own ship amidst the ever-changing tides of the professional and personal seas. For leaders of color, this is a critical skill for gaining success in the environments in which we are the cultural minority,
For leaders who struggle with imposter syndrome, their voices not being heard or understanding how to harness the power of their uniqueness, self-leadership becomes their internal compass. The practice results in knowing your values, strengths, and weaknesses and the ability to navigate through the storms and calm waters of your professional journey. This internal compass not only keeps you on course but allows you to sail with authenticity and integrity.
Preparing the Soil: Self-Reflection
Your voyage toward self-leadership begins with self-reflection. If you click on any of my blog posts, you will notice that I believe in the power of self-reflection, especially when it applies to leader development. In my coaching practice, I use a combination of self-assessment through Everything DISC, journaling, and one-on-one coaching programs.
However you decide to engage in self-reflection, it is your time to delve into the soil of your being, exploring what lies beneath the surface. Ask yourself:
– What are my core values?
– What strengths can I leverage?
– What are the areas I need to improve?
This process of self-reflection is like turning the soil, preparing it for the seeds of self-leadership you are about to sow. I often suggest that leaders regularly self-reflect, a great way to establish this habit is to keep a reflection journal.
Here are a few suggestions from my Empowered series, which contains guided journal prompts curated for leaders of color.
Sowing Seeds: Establishing Your Vision
As you delve into self-reflection, envision the garden you wish to grow. Your vision is the blueprint of your professional garden, a vivid picture of the leader you aspire to become. Craft a vision that resonates with your core values, one that excites and propels you forward.
To sow these seeds effectively, consider these steps:
Define Your Desired Outcome:
Start by picturing where you want to be in 5, 10, or even 20 years. Be as vivid as possible. What does success look and feel like to you? Is it leading a team that shares your vision or perhaps breaking ground in innovative projects?
Align with Core Values:
Your vision should be a reflection of your innermost values. These are the non-negotiables that dictate your decisions and actions. For instance, if diversity and inclusivity are values you hold dear, they should be integral to your vision.
Set Achievable Milestones:
A vision without a plan is merely a dream. Break down your vision into achievable milestones. This could mean setting professional development goals, achieving certain certifications, or building strategic relationships.
The practice of visualization is a powerful tool. It involves mentally rehearsing your journey towards your vision. Top athletes visualize their performances, and as a leader, you too can harness this technique to reinforce your commitment to your vision.
Flexibility: Remember, while a seed is sown with an idea of the plant it will become, nature may have other plans. Similarly, be prepared to adapt your vision as you grow and learn.
Nurturing Growth: Daily Practices
With your vision planted firmly in the soil of your aspirations, it’s time to nurture its growth through daily practices. Here are some strategies:
Practice mindfulness to stay rooted in the present, to weather the storms with grace, and to appreciate the sunny days of your professional journey.
Like a gardener learns about new plants or new gardening techniques, invest in continuous learning to foster your growth.
Seek feedback like a gardener seeks advice from fellow gardeners. It’s a tool to prune and shape your growth, guiding you toward your vision of success.
Networking is like cross-pollination in a garden. It’s about creating mutually beneficial relationships that help you and others grow.
Blossoming: Embracing Authenticity
As you tend to the seeds of your vision with patience and persistence, you’ll notice the first signs of blossoming – the emergence of your authentic self in your leadership style. This phase is about letting the true you shine through in every decision, interaction, and challenge you face.
Here’s how you can embrace and enhance your authenticity:
Authenticity begins with self-awareness. It’s understanding your emotions, reactions, and the unique quirks that make you ‘you’. Like a flower that blooms in its own unique way, embrace your individuality.
Like sunlight through leaves, let your communication be clear and transparent. Authentic leaders don’t hide behind jargon or ambiguity; they speak their truth and in doing so, inspire others to do the same.
Authenticity is not a one-off act, but a habit. It’s showing up as your true self consistently, not just when the sun is out, but also when clouds gather. People trust and follow leaders who are the same on Monday as they are on Friday.
There’s strength in vulnerability. Like a tree that bends in the storm but doesn’t break, being open about your challenges and fears can actually draw others to you, forging stronger connections.
Stick to your roots. Make decisions that align with your core values and vision, even when it’s tough. Your integrity will be the fragrance that draws others to your leadership.
By nurturing these aspects, your authenticity will bloom, setting you apart in a world where many may don borrowed masks. Your genuine leadership will not only inspire your teams but also attract opportunities that resonate with your true self, ultimately leading to a fulfilling and successful career.
Harvesting Success: The Fruits of Self-Leadership
With time, patience, and consistent nurturing, the garden of your professional life will flourish. The fruits of self-leadership are plentiful and sweet, encompassing personal satisfaction, professional success, and the respect and trust of those around you.
Your journey toward self-leadership is a rewarding endeavor that demands time, effort, and a genuine desire to evolve. By planting the seeds of self-leadership today, you’re not just investing in your success, but you’re nurturing the authenticity that makes you a unique and impactful leader.
Embark on this fulfilling self-leadership journey, and watch as your garden of professional success grows lush with the vibrant colors of authenticity, integrity, and success.
Your voyage toward self-leadership and authentic success is an adventurous one, filled with growth, learning, and boundless potential. Unlit Leadership is here to guide and support you as you traverse this exciting landscape. If you need assistance in any of the areas listed above, book your free consultation today!