To be a great leader, you have to start by leading yourself

Becoming a leader can be exciting, but it can be frightening too. Everything you’ve done so far in your career has led you to this point. However, the experiences and skills that landed you this new job will not be what allows you to succeed. You must adopt and develop the traits and skills that make okay leaders into great leaders. There are no quick fixes. It takes hard work, the refusal to give up and a commitment to do your best.

Know your weaknesses

Knowing what your leadership weaknesses are is a good thing. It’s not about beating yourself up and focusing on the negatives. But it is helpful to understand limitations in the way you work, your skills, and any knowledge gaps. Then you can re-frame these negatives into positives. To find out your weaknesses, ask those around you who know you best. But be prepared that some people might be wary of giving you feedback—for fear of retribution. And be ready to hear some confronting information.

Engage in daily reflection

Self-reflection strengthens self-awareness and enables you to make better decisions, as well as communicate more effectively. Leaders who commit to daily practise, even just 5-10 minutes a day, are better able to reach their true leadership potential. Questions to reflect on include: How did my leadership go yesterday? How would the leader I’d like to be face the challenges I faced today? What could I be doing differently? Write your reflections down and refer back to them as an ongoing learning exercise.

Regulate your emotions

When you let your emotions run away from you, it can be a very bad day in the office. Although employees might get away with the odd emotional outburst, leaders don’t have the same luxury. Every emotional reaction has a flow on effect to those under you. And a leader who can’t manage their emotions can damage employee morale and retention, along with the company’s reputation and bottom line. Effective leaders are aware of their emotions, and they know their responsibilities toward employees, clients, and the organisation.

 

These tools might seem familiar, as they are the same tools you may ask your employees to utilise in your role as their leader. Often when we’re leading our team, we forget to lead ourselves. So the next time you feel yourself going off track, ask yourself what you’d expect your employees to do—and follow your own leadership.