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Before you have any hope to lead someone else, you must first lead yourself.  And of everyone you lead, you are the person who will need the most attention and care if you intend to serve your people in a way that brings them to new levels of engagement, fulfillment and performance while also delivering outstanding results.

Invest time leading each of these five parts of yourself and their associated actions.  Each of these require a conscious choice everyday to lead yourself and others differently.

  1. Lead your heartOur natural inclination is to be self-serving and focus on our survival and/or advancement.  Don’t feel guilty about it.  Accept it and lead your heart differently.
    • Commit to others and the organization above yourself.
    • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be willing to be vulnerable and reject the notion of having to always display strength, confidence, and poise.
    • Be the same person as you are at home, church, or the grocery store (Note: people deeply appreciate and desire authenticity in a world where “reality” has become the furthest from reality you could find)
  2. Ground your feet – Without sufficient intention, leaders often lead from an imbalanced stance where fighting fires, staying in the weeds and little down time become the norm. Lead yourself to a balanced stance from which you can lead others.
    • Reassess and re-calibrate often based on shifting demands and changes in life.
    • Use personal values and purpose as stabilizing forces when uncertainty and complexity arise
    • Find balance between the two elements involved in getting things done: the tasks and the people. Understand that both are important and don’t focus on one at the expense of the other.
  3. Think differently – Albert Einstein said that “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them.” Another perspective on this is that the way of thinking that got you here, won’t get you where you (or your team) needs to be.  It may even hold you back.
    • Think beyond events and strategy to the deeper factors that could be driving the situation, such as organizational culture and beliefs.
    • Hold plans lightly so they can be revised and modified along the way. This requires humility to not be so strongly attached to a plan or an idea.
    • Develop a consciousness about the relationships between people, process and structures
    • Get comfortable with messiness and complexity and adaptable as situations change over time or in an instant
  4. See clearly – Our leadership sight can often become clouded by our own perspective, biases and experiences.  We also tend to lose sight of the deeper purpose of our work and our team’s many contributions.  Lead your eyes to see differently.
    • Begin to see things as whole and don’t see sharp lines between work life, personal life, community, and the world at-large.
    • Look for, see and honor the greatness in others
    • “Zoom in” and “zoom out” on problems and situations; “zooming in” to look at the individuals and the specifics of the problem in order to fix it, and for deeper problem solving.  “Zoom out” to look at the situation in context, how it’s related to other things going on in the organization, in light of trends and patterns and in relation to the world in which the organization exists.
  5. Listen deeply – Many take listening for granted. Listening can bring real influence to our communication and involves more than just the ears; it’s a full body activity. Lead your ears to listen more deeply.
    • Listen to everyone from the perspective that each person has something to contribute.
    • Set aside your personal agenda while listening and be completely focused on what the other person is saying in that moment.

 Which of the self-leadership actions will you tackle first?

Who will you invite to support you in taking concrete action?


Jeff HarmonJeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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