Self-leadership: what it is, what skills it encompasses and how to develop it
Often, when we talk about psychological factors that can make us earn more with less, we talk about the importance of leadership. A good leader is able to get the best out of a team, to take advantage of the potential of each person and make them enter into a work dynamic where everyone complements each other. However, we often forget an element as or more important than this. This is self-leadership .
At the end of the day, in order to create a certain order around a project, it is necessary first of all to order oneself, to make the actions we take really fit in with our medium and long term objectives, and not to make inconsistencies appear between what we say we want to do and what we are really doing.
Throughout this article we will see what exactly self-leadership consists of and how we can promote and develop this quality.
What is self-leadership?
Self-leadership is the set of psychological skills that support self-control, the ability not to fall into distraction and the monitoring of one’s actions according to their degree of compatibility with medium- and long-term goals, in accordance with the capacities that one considers oneself to have.
Thus, it can be said that self-leadership is made up of psychological processes that are responsible for making us as likely as possible to reach medium- and long-term goals, bearing in mind that there will always be a certain degree of uncertainty about what the future holds, and that we have limited resources to achieve what we want. Knowing how to make decisions properly, and using what we have intelligently, are two key elements of self-leadership.
On the other hand, self-leadership is related to self-efficacy and self-concept, since in order to be able to make our projects come to fruition we must be realistic and not aspire to unreasonable goals; but it is also related to the strategies necessary to know how to channel our efforts well, so that we do not put ourselves . Among these strategies we find, for example, those that allow us to prioritize tasks and focus attention.
Components of self-leadership
Among the elements that make up self-leadership , we find the following.
1. Detailed thinking on the objective
These skills are those that allow us to formulate in the most concrete way possible a goal to be reached. There are mainly three of them:
- Imagination of the target by degrees of complexity (from abstract to complete).
- Assessment of the internal coherence of the objective.
- Assessment of the implications of the goal for others (imagine who it hurts and who it benefits).
2. Situation assessment and planning skills
These are the skills that allow a good diagnosis of the present moment and that allow to obtain an x-ray of those relevant elements in order to develop a project in which it is necessary to think in the medium or long term. Basically, they are the following:
- Evaluation of one’s strengths and weaknesses .
- Imagining different future situations
- Analysis of the degree of uncertainty.
- Prioritization and sequencing of the actions to follow.
3. Care and monitoring skills
These skills are those related to the implementation of the plan and the focusing of cognitive resources on the implementation and monitoring of the plan.
There are three types of self-leadership skills:
- Delayed gratification.
- Ability to focus attention .
- Ability to compare objectives and results.
How can we improve this mental capacity?
As with many other psychological phenomena, it is possible to train this skill set and have it perfected with practice. Below you can read several tips and steps to follow to improve your self-leadership .
1. Create fact hierarchies by analyzing the present
When creating plans and subdividing objectives, it is important to ensure that everything forms a hierarchy, from the most concrete to the most abstract (or vice versa). In this way it will be much easier to get used to analyzing situations and to include in our “mental map” of the present everything that is relevant.
A good way to do this is to first perform a SWOT analysis to get a description of the present. In each of its categories it is possible to order elements according to their degree of specificity and importance, placing the more concrete ones within broader ones. Thus, for the same hierarchical category it will be easier to detect elements that play in favour and elements that play against it, which will then help to know whether a plan is viable or not, and in the case of being so, which aspects need to be solved with greater priority and which need to be strengthened in order to take advantage of them.
2. Get used to creating plans and detailed schedules
Establishing a moment in which some concrete tasks must have been carried out goes very well in order not to fall into distractions, prioritize well and organize the available resources .
Make a Gantt chart afterwards, to go from “the picture” of the moment 0 to the visualization of how a plan or project can be displayed in time.
This creation of deadlines should go into detail, so that every day there is something to do in a certain number of hours. Otherwise, there is a risk of leaving everything to the last moment, which has negative repercussions in every way.
3. Find allies and delegate
In some projects it is possible to collaborate with third parties and delegate tasks, and in all of them it is necessary first to ask whether this is possible, to at least consider that possibility. In that way, the most strategic actions can be left to one’s own devices, while those that are more technical or procedural can be carried out by someone else. In this way, a dynamic is generated in which there is no unnecessary interference between the execution of tasks .
4. Create adequate work spaces
This is an aspect of self-leadership that is often overlooked, as it is sometimes assumed that knowing how to steer one’s own rudder is a task that has to do with introspection and the “internal” management of one’s self. However, this is a myth, because when working on the differentiation between oneself and the environment is simply a mirage .
Therefore, we must do everything possible to ensure that the environment in which we work offers all the comforts that are reasonable to achieve. For example, eliminating distractions is a step that is often forgotten, but it helps a lot.
5. Lead a healthy lifestyle
It may seem silly, but following the logic of the above advice, it is necessary to do everything possible to ensure that our interaction with the environment, whether through diet or exercise, puts us in the best possible position to work. Of course, it is also necessary to sleep well .
Conclusion: being our own leader to develop exciting projects
The idea behind everything we have seen is that in order to make the most of what we have, we must first know how to manage our own time, resources and efforts. This is not something that is achieved simply by accumulating goods to work with, but rather we must develop various skills that will allow us to maximize our chances of success and that, moreover, are generalizable to any initiative we are going to have. The expressions of self-leadership that we show by creating our own business, for example, will probably also be noticed when we train in a new area of knowledge, or when we become parents.
In short, it is good to know that with less we can do more, if we have the willingness to adopt that philosophy and with the right knowledge about our own capabilities.