Great leaders are great self-leaders. They understand that in order to have maximum impact and influence, they must commit to leading themselves effectively. This is not an easy task though—not even for the best leaders.
I heard Dr. Henry Cloud say one time that, “You are the hardest person you will ever lead.” I agree with that statement because as leaders, we often focus all of our attention on leading others instead of facing ourselves and our own need for improvement. We do this because it’s predictable. It’s more comfortable. It’s often less painful. However, it’s also detrimental to our leadership. This reality, unfortunately, is something that many leaders fail to grasp.
In order to help you become a better leader of yourself, and ultimately others, I have compiled a list of 10 key things that every leader must know. They are as follows:
1) KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
What is your purpose in life? When you understand your reason for existence, everything else becomes clearer and more meaningful.
2) KNOW WHAT GUIDES YOU.
What values influence your behavior? Clear, non-negotiable values will keep you focused on what is most important in life and help you make decisions accordingly.
3) KNOW WHAT INSPIRES YOU.
What is your long-term vision? You need to have a vivid picture of the future in order to know where you are headed in life.
4) KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS.
What are your core abilities and gifts? When you focus on maximizing your performance based on your strengths, you have a greater level of impact.
5) KNOW WHERE YOU NEED TO IMPROVE.
What are your limitations? Confront the reality that you are human and that you do have room for improvement and growth.
6) KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE.
What are your goals? You need to consistently set goals that stretch and challenge you to develop and reach your full potential.
7) KNOW WHAT YOU MUST DO.
What is your strategy for success? You need to have a clear plan for how you are going to achieve your goals.
8) KNOW HOW TO EXECUTE YOUR PLAN.
What steps must you take? A plan without action is meaningless—you need to identify and then implement specific steps in order to achieve your goals.
9) KNOW HOW YOU MEASURE SUCCESS.
What are your indicators of success? Clear metrics are essential to knowing if you are (or are not) progressing toward your goals.
10) KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW.
What do you need to learn? Leaders are learners, and it is essential that you always stay hungry for learning new knowledge that will enhance your ability to lead more effectively.
If you will commit the time to examining yourself in each of these 10 areas, you will grow as a leader. Your level of impact will also grow. It takes time and discipline, but focusing on improving yourself first will help you become more effective and influential in your leadership of others.