Trevor Stockwell Leadership Development Services

Self-Leadership - You ARE in Control!

11 April 2023
Self-leadership - you are in control

Everyone can improve their leadership...

Great leadership is not something that we are born with, although some individuals have a stronger leaning towards naturally expressing leadership traits and growing in this area than others. But the good news for everyone is that leadership, and how it is expressed, is a learned skill, developed through training, experience and practice. Thus, our level of intentionality in improving these skills will directly correlate to the level we operate in.


The fundamental element to develop is self-leadership. This is crucial for success because EVERY part of our lives is influenced by who we are internally…and how we express ourselves when leading others, emanates from this core. You are always with yourself! 


What is self-leadership?

Great question, before we explore this, take a moment to think about that statement again:

‘EVERY part of our lives is influenced by who we are internally’.


Now think through the ramifications of this, and how this truth is currently being played out in your life. How well you lead yourself at any given moment has a direct effect on your life, positively or negatively.

A simple definition of great self-leadership I like to use is: 

Doing what is most beneficial, when you need to do it, and choosing to be happy about it!


I believe great self-leadership is a fusion of many elements working well together – with our intentional and conscious involvement in developing these. Example elements include: a healthy mindset; a positive ‘can-do’ attitude; developing effective habits; strong emotional intelligence; a high level of resilience (physical and mental) etc…


Self-leadership is the ability we each have to take responsibility for our own decisions and actions, to determine ‘how we show up’.

Self-leadership affects how we express ourselves

For each of us, self-leadership influences every moment, every thought, every decision, and every action…EVERY day. This means that these elements are either working for you, propelling you towards accomplishing your goals and dreams or drawing you further away from them. Shifts in either direction can be very subtle and undetectable at first.  Healthy self-leadership enables us to get the most out of life, out of our potential, and is a huge contributor to effectively leading others.


Self-leadership skills are important for building a strong foundation to both live from personally, and to lead others from, and are a perpetual activity if you want to stay 'on top of your game'.


Regardless of the level of influence our leadership has at any given point, whether leading multiple organisations or teams, or one other person, we are ultimately only able to control one individual, and that is ourselves.

When the light went on for me…

I believe my first conscious realization of the term ‘self-leadership’, was many years ago when I started to read John Maxwell’s book, ‘Developing the Leader within you’, (1st edition). John has been a mentor of mine since then. I had been intentionally developing my character prior to this (which is the bedrock of great self-leadership), but I had not linked it to this in my thinking until this time.


A fundamental part of my focus when Coaching leaders is to help them first develop their awareness of their self-leadership and how they can improve this.  BECAUSE UNTIL WE ARE AWARE OF SOMETHING, WE CANNOT CHANGE IT. Once we start improving how we lead ourselves, effectively leading others better becomes more of a natural by-product.


Taking Control

Cultivating great self-leadership is a lifestyle that helps us to take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, behaviours, results and happiness. Great self-leadership is evidenced by productive behaviours (which are the result of healthy thinking), for example: 

  • someone who sets goals and objectives for themselves, and then takes steps to achieve those goals, 
  • someone who handles conflict well by defusing a heated situation and avoids becoming entangled in escalating strife. (My paraphrase of an ancient Proverb: ‘…any idiot can start an argument!’),
  • someone who schedules in self-care amongst an active calendar…

Great self-leadership always leads us towards and through beneficial learning experiences, whether that is working through a course and gaining information, or confronting areas of procrastination we discover in how we operate, or recognising a habit that is no longer serving our goals and dream and taking specific steps to identify a new habit to implement and replace those now ‘obsolete’. It regularly puts us in uncomfortable situations for growth. It sounds paradoxical but that is how we thrive!


Self-leadership is fundamental

It's not personal

The terms ‘self-leadership’ or 'personal leadership' can be mis-interpreted and create the perception that it is all about you. When actually, healthy self-leadership empowers you to lead yourself and others better, creating more win/win scenarios.


We never escape the requirement and responsibility to always be developing our self-leadership.  And whilst it is the fundamental first step to any leadership success, it is the starting point to then develop the skills to successfully lead others. But as it is foundational, self-leadership will underpin ALL of your actions, thinking, responses etc. when leading others.

Explore this in more detail…

Self-leadership is crucial for every leader to develop and is one of the 8 key qualities featured in the book, ‘8 Qualities for Great Leadership – critical elements for current and future success. My chapter is, ‘Self-Leadership: Raising Your Inner Game Maximizes Your External Results’.


The book is now an international #1 Amazon Best Seller (in the UK, US, Canada & Australia). A definite asset to your leadership library.


Order your copy now! 


Amazon UK


Amazon (US)

8 Qualities For Great Leadership chapter on self-leadership


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