When we think of leaders, people at the top of their game or industry come to mind. They are the movers and shakers—people like Arianna Huffington, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, and Richard Branson. It is not uncommon to exclude everyday people from any designation of “leadership,” especially if they are relatively new to management or team leadership or are currently seeking employment.
The truth is, we all must master the skill of self-leadership—the art of leading ourselves—regardless of our current career or employment status. It’s a necessary skill for survival in the new ways of working.
A continuing emphasis on self-leadership, no matter the scenario, is vital. Three points to consider:
- Self-leadership calls for taking majority ownership of your career journey. For example, when a person is seeking upward mobility, it’s not only the skill set that guarantees progression. Self-leadership demands that you recognize the value of networking and leverage the expertise of mentors and sponsors. In addition, auditing your cultural competencies and making plans to strengthen those skills are winning moves.
- Self-leadership means investing time in clearly defining your brand, whether you’re an entrepreneur or intrapreneur. Many branding experts are willing to share their knowledge on the importance of personal branding. One such expert, Karen Kang, CEO of BrandingPays, provides a quick branding pyramid quiz focused on the sustainability of your brand.
- For those seeking employment, having the right mindset is a form of self-leadership and a true necessity to landing the best roles. Labor statistics tell us that these are indeed trying times, with many people unemployed. Today’s job seeker must demonstrate patience, creativity, and flexibility to be successful in gaining employment.
Here are some suggestions for applying self-leadership capabilities as a tool in your career journey:
- Carry yourself like a leader even if you don’t feel like one yet. While it may be simplistic, the phrase “fake it till you make it” still works.
- Do volunteer work to build a capability. Find an organization in need of the capability you want to build and volunteer, even though it’s outside your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised how much you learn, and you never know what new doors will open for you as a result of this bold action.
- Stay positive by finding pick-me-ups that work for you. Whether it’s listening to an uplifting podcast, catching a comedy on Netflix, or exercising to get the adrenaline up, the choice is yours.
- Cut those excuses. Find a solution to what seems to be an obstacle. If you need some help in this area, pick up the late Wayne Dyer’s book entitled Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits.
The bottom line is that how we govern ourselves is an important component of leadership today. The approaches offered here are meant to stimulate your thinking and provide actionable ideas to help you win in your career.
AMA’s Women’s Leadership Center helps women become more effective leaders through networking, webinars, live training workshops, and more. See the calendar of WLC events.