5 Tips for Thriving Leadership

Effective, thriving leadership begins with self-leadership. No one wants to follow a leader who can’t manage themselves. Self-leadership is the foundation that qualifies you to lead others. You must assess and improve your personal habits, mindset, and behavior. Here are some indicators that you might need to strengthen your self-leadership.

Here are 5 tips for thriving leadership:

1. Lead Yourself First

Nobody wants a leader who can’t even lead himself. Leading yourself is the starting standard that begins to qualify you to lead others.

Here are some ways to tell if you’re lacking in self-leadership:

  • Your personal life is a mess.
  • You’re out of shape, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
  • You’re frequently in a state of anger and are quick to let your emotions get the best of you.
  • You assume the worst first and complain a lot.
  • You’re disorganized, often miss deadlines, and frequently run late.
  • You mentally or verbally negatively judge others more than you should.

Self-leadership starts with a realistic assessment of your strengths and opportunities for development. It requires intentionally, consistently, and diligently improving yourself. Forever.

2. Value Values

The leaders we most admire embody and uphold enduring principles and values. They have a certain congruency – having values and living according to them. They are the opposite of hypocritical leaders that we don’t admire – people who say one thing and do another. The difference between having values and living them, and saying you have them and not living them, is the difference between having and not having integrity. To be a good leader, you have to have good values. Take stock of what you stand for, and what you stand against.

Consider this:

  • What values do you hold most dear?
  • What values would others say you most embody?
  • In what ways do your goals, priorities, and actions line up with your values? In what ways don’t they line up with your values?
  • Which values are nonnegotiable and define a boundary you will always uphold?

Value your values. They are the stuff that character is made of.

3. Name Your Fear

Hubris feeds on fear. The ego is designed to protect you from harm or danger, so it is hypervigilant against threats. The more threatened your ego feels, the more it will act preemptively against what it finds threatening. This protection mechanism is at the root of much of the intimidating behavior you see from arrogant leaders. At the core, arrogant leaders are fearful leaders. They externalize their own fear by intimidating you into fearing them. The more you fear them, the less threatened they feel. Thus, to prevent yourself from becoming a fear-based leader, it’s important to identify the things you find threatening. Here are a few common fears that arrogant leaders preemptively strike against. Which ones, if any, do you find threatening? Are there other threats you’d add to the list? What actions can you take to mitigate your fears so they don’t get externalized in the form of intimidating behavior?

Common fears: 

  • People not respecting you.
  • Not getting what you want.
  • Losing something you’ve earned.
  • Failing to achieve results.
  • Not getting fairly recognized and rewarded.
  • People judging you as less valuable than your peers.
  • Not being in control

When you feel fear, avoid displacing it through intimidating or abusive behavior, act with courage by exploring what’s driving your fear, and working through it.

4. Start and End Your Day with Two Key Questions

This tip is a few hundred years old, which speaks to its durability and usefulness. It comes from the autobiography of the truest of Americans, Benjamin Franklin. Each day, upon waking, old Ben asked himself, “What good shall I do this day?” It gave his day immediate purpose, focus, and direction. This question helped orient all of his actions and conversations that day. It also helped him put on a service mindset. Notice the question isn’t about productivity, it’s about goodness. When most of us think about doing good we aren’t thinking about ourselves. We do good for others.

But the question itself requires a check. It’s not enough to start the day with a noble intention. We must finish the day with careful reflection on the actual ways we have made a positive impact on the lives of others. After all, as a leader, what good are you if you aren’t doing good? Hence Franklin’s second question, which he asked each evening, “What good have I done today?”

5. Respect Self and Others

Too many leaders pay lip service to the importance of respect but are personally disrespectful. They show up late to meetings, they interrupt people, and they don’t abide by the rules they want others to conform to. Real respect is earned, day in and day out. How?

By doing such things as…

  • Making others feel important by treating them like they matter, regardless of their rank, because, guess what?…they do!
  • Seeking out and listening to the insights and ideas of others, and taking their concerns seriously. Remember, your success as a leader is dependent upon your good work. So they matter more to you than you do to them.
  • Acting like an adult is supposed to act. Don’t fly off the handle when people make mistakes, and when engaged in conflict, fight fair. Don’t use fear to motivate people. Don’t manipulate others just to get your way. In other words, keep your emotions in check. If you aren’t able to, consider seeking help because you might not actually be an adult, but some kind of baby that managed to rise through the management ranks!
  • Apologizing quickly, candidly, and sincerely. When you mess up, fess up.
  • Producing. Talk is cheap. Real leaders do real work and make real things happen. One of the leaders we worked with, the director of a scientific research center at a leading university, said it best, “Get stuff done.”
  • Being self-respectful. Having and upholding boundaries and saying “no” when they’re crossed. Trusting your instincts by listening to, and following your intuition. Using positive internal “self-talk”, and giving yourself credit when you do a good job.

As a leader, how do you focus on staying humble, balanced, and focused on those you’re privileged to lead?

Interested in other leadership topics? Find more here:


Image by PngForYou from Pixabay

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