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At Leadercast, we talk a lot about building leaders worth following—it is our mission statement, after all. The phrase may insinuate a goal to develop leaders others will follow, but you can’t lead others without learning how to lead yourself first.
Think of it like learning to drive a car: You wouldn’t want to be taught how to drive by a person who doesn’t know how to do it themselves. Instead, you would want someone with experience, someone who adheres to the rules of the road, and someone who acknowledges and learns from their mistakes.
The same applies to leadership—we must practice it ourselves before we teach others how to be great leaders. This year, Leadercast wants to equip you with all the tools you need to lead yourself well, and our 2018 events, Leadercast Live and Leadercast Women, will center around this theme. (Both events will be held in Atlanta, but they will also be broadcasted to location near you! Click HERE to find one.)
To kick off the year of leading yourself, we looked to a few interviews on Leadercast NOW to learn what the leadership experts had to say on the topic. Here are three points they made about how to lead yourself first.
1. Know yourself.
One of the first steps in leading yourself is knowing who you are as a person. What are your habits or tendencies? What motivates you? What fulfills you? How do you react to your failures?
“Knowing yourself to lead yourself is actually knowing where you need to be to be completely healthy, completely fulfilled, but also how you need to be to connect with those you lead,” says Dan Frey, partner at GiANT Worldwide, in this video interview.
He shares that connecting with others means you must be aware of how you come across to other people. “We have to be hyperaware of our own tendencies,” he says. “Most adults have no idea what their tendencies are. But if we're aware of our tendencies, we're aware of those patterns of behavior that are exhibited through our actions.”
2. Know what breaks your heart.
According to author and speaker Andy Stanley, knowing what breaks your heart has led many leaders to discovering their purpose. In one of his past Leadercast Live appearances, Andy shares examples of notable leaders from the past and the present, who saw something wrong in the world and made it their mission to change it—people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement; Bob Pierce who founded World Vision International; Linda and Millard Fuller who founded Habitat for Humanity; and others.
“Every significant nonprofit that has made an impact in the world and most social movements that have impacted the world began with a broken-hearted leader,” explains Andy in the speech. “Someone whose heart was so broken over an issue, someone whose heart was so broken over what was happening in their community, their school system, their city, their community, their world, that they decided something has to be done and they decided not to take no for an answer.”
Take a moment to ask yourself, “What breaks my heart?” Are you aware of your purpose as a leader, or is it something you’re looking for? The answer to this question may very well help you find it.
3. Learn. Learn. Learn.
Leadership is a lifelong journey, and consistent learning is a critical part of it. In an interview with us, author Steve Franklin describes reading, empowering others and mentorship as essential learning elements for leaders.
“You are a composite of the books you read, the people you meet and the places you go,” says Steve. “You’d better go meet everybody you can, go to every seminar you can, take every class you can, read every book and article you can on leadership. And then, do your best to ask someone older than you, that’s been in grade longer than you, ‘Would you be open to mentoring me?’”
Use Steve’s advice as a starting tool for your leadership learning. Then, once a week write down something you did or learned that helped you be a better leader.
As you work on developing your leadership this year, consider how you’re leading yourself first and then think about how you’re guiding others. Reflect on who you are, discover your purpose and continue to learn as much as you can and you’ll be well on your way to being a leader worth following—both for others and for yourself.