In our last post, we looked at the ever-growing difficulty within the construction industry of acquiring and retaining skilled workers. I suggested that the solution was in developing better leadership, specifically Extreme Leadership.
Now we want to look a little closer at the first of the three primary components of extreme leadership–Self-Leadership.
Extreme leadership starts with self-leadership. A leader who cannot lead themselves well will not be able to lead others well. More importantly, anyone can improve their self-leadership even if they currently have no position of authority or influence over others. Self-leadership is the foundation on which all leadership is built. It is basic, but far from easy. In fact the most difficult person that I have ever had to lead is me!
Early on in my leadership journey I realized that my kids would one day tell a story about their father. I knew that if I didn’t make some significant changes, the story they would tell would be the same one being told at that time by my employees and associates–that I was arrogant, intimidating and unapproachable.
That was a far cry from the story that I wanted told–that I was a selfless, courageous influencer who inspired them to be their best. Every single step in my journey to close that gap required me to hold myself accountable to make the many significant changes that were needed and to keep at it even when progress was slow and painful, as it often was.
The concept of self-leadership is captured well in the lyrics to the song Man in the Mirror:
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways…
If you want to make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself and make a change.”
Self-leadership is the epitome of the oft-used expression “leading by example”. What leader wouldn’t love to have a team filled with people who took responsibility for their own attitudes and actions, made decisions that benefitted the team as a whole rather than themselves and were constantly seeking to improve?… Of course! No environment will ever be completely free of challenges, but you can certainly build a culture where team members expect this of themselves and others–by first expecting it from yourself!
Perhaps the greatest irony in trying to lead one’s self well is that it is made more difficult by trying to do it by yourself. Yes we are ultimately responsible for our results. Accountability and self-discipline are vital for our long-term success as a leader. But getting from where you are to where you want to be will almost certainly require outside help.Very few people are naturally good at leading themselves.
Committing to self-leadership and finding the right guide to come alongside, hold you accountable, encourage and inspire as you implement long-term change is one of the most important decisions you can make as a leader.