In October 2023, I was appointed Coordinator for a community-based interest group project run by a non-profit organization. I was charged with, amongst other things, overseeing the sub-group leaders and the progress of the initiative and conducting conference meetings with the leaders of each respective group as needed.
One day, shortly after leading our routine meeting, I received a complimentary message from Amanda, one of the leaders in attendance, that reads thus;
“And I must commend you. You’re doing really well and you’re a great leader too. The interest groups are in able hands with you.”
The above message and our resulting conversation contain several leadership insights that form the basis of most of the leadership tips and advice discussed in this blog post.
Join me as we unpack them.
3 Vital Lessons on Great Leadership.
If you read the opening sections of this article, it is possible to conclude that my intention for telling that story was to praise myself.
What if I told you the story is actually about Amanda’s leadership ability? Enter lesson #1.
Lesson #1: It is not about you.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in their leadership journey is to pursue leadership for selfish reasons — to be served, to satisfy the cravings of their selfish ambition, and to feed their ego. Jesus’s comment in Mark 10: 42-45 teaches us something fundamentally important about great leadership.
Paradoxically, the invaluable personal benefits of leadership have a principled way of reaching those who don’t chase after it.
Leadership might start with you but it is designed to be so much more. So in playing your role, see and focus on the big picture.
Lesson #2: Followership is The Path To Great Leadership.
I reckon the practice of followership to be a direct and apt training for great leadership. Show me an effective leader and I will show you a good follower. John C Maxwell remarked, in The Self Aware Leader;
Only a leader who has followed well knows how to lead others.
In Amanda, we see a practical example. She reports to me and also demonstrates great leadership ability.
In her message, Amanda effectively utilizes triple focus which Daniel Goleman in his book titled Focus asserts to be a skill that marks effective focused leaders. Let us take a closer look at her message again and see how she balances all three focuses;
- “You are doing well”. Amanda uses her Other focus to listen outwardly and to observe me and my work extensively; taking notice of key points and drawing conclusions.
- “The interest groups are in able hands with you”. She can only come to this conclusion after the proper use of her outer focus; her view of the grand scheme of things and its implication.
- “I must commend you“. She toggles on her inner focus for self-awareness, recruits her intuition and consciously decides that leaving me feedback was the best action to take on her discoveries.
Lesson #3: Great Leadership Inspires
“Why did she send it immediately after the conference meeting? Is her reasoning based on true findings?” I pondered after receiving her message.
Rather than assume, I asked her directly to know the basis of her conclusions about me.
“What’s it for you? What made you arrive at this conclusion?“, I asked.
Before she replied, I already had my suspicions and guesses. When her reply eventually came in, it came with the confirmations I needed. That’s how I got inspired to write this blog post providing leadership advice and tips to new, intermediate, and even seasoned leaders so they can achieve better results.
Good leadership makes every endeavor better.
Extraordinary Self-Leadership Tips for personal and professional growth
Self-leadership is where effective leadership starts. It is founded on the principle of sequence and it states so simply;
You can’t be successful with other people if you have not paid the price of success with yourself.
Here are several self leadership tips to help you become a more effective self-leader and steward;
#1: Don’t discover purpose, Receive purpose.
Your purpose is not determined by anyone or anything in the natural world for a chair can’t decide the purpose of a table. Your purpose isn’t also determined by you because Purpose precedes the existence of every intentional design.
Rather than treating purpose as something elected, see it as something that you receive from the Creator. Contrary to popular opinion, the wholesome truth about all that encompasses your reason for being can only come from your Creator. Seek His counsel.
#2: You are who God says you are.
We live in a time when matters and discussions about identity are so complex and confusing.
I fear that Adopting identities based on unstable things like inner feelings, and habits, will result in the creation of a generation of people with identity crises and a conflicting sense of being.
Unlike emotions, God doesn’t change. If he said you are. Then you are. Your assurance is based on the integrity of His word and the wisdom of His design.
#3: Lead your best “Self”.
There is the natural life given by a person’s parent to which every human being is predisposed. There is also the God-life(eternal life); a higher life given to everyone born of the Spirit of God through faith in Christ. However, not many are leading this life.
You have a better, more vital life in Christ. Lead your best self.
#4: Follow Jesus and partner with the Holy Spirit.
We just addressed the role of followership in leadership in a non-spiritual way. However, at this point, I add this: In following Jesus, we learn and can practice the rudiments of divine leadership at its core.
There is something called Divine leading as a heritage for all who believe in Christ. A person can receive instructions, guidance, and directions based on the counsel of the Holy Spirit. And the very act of obedience is the practice of extraordinary self-leadership.
#5: You are responsible for yourself.
Self-leadership is the ability to exercise responsibility for thoughts, actions, and behaviors. Never abdicate that power to anyone or any situation because no human other than you is responsible for this.
When you start seeing yourself as responsible, you take hold of the power to cause a change in your life.
#6: You have the power to change for the better.
Never underestimate your ability to learn new ideas, habits, and behaviors and unlearn ones inconsistent with your true self. The brain might have a mix of good and bad reputations but it is still the most complex thing in the universe with the innate ability to learn.
You might be young and not so well-versed at the moment, but you can get better. You can improve. You can be suited for the leadership challenge that comes your way.
#7: Adopt the Continuous learning approach.
Continuous learning and improvement is one sure way to build capacity.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, to remain relevant, attractive, and valuable in a fast-changing world, you must become a lifelong learner. Invest in personal knowledge. Keep reading. Read books, read articles like this one. Diversify your learning.
#8: Work on your personality traits.
Discover and learn more about your personality; type, strengths, weaknesses, and how to build new traits. Work towards being a better person each day. Don’t excuse your character flaws as a force of personality or astrology saying I am this way because I am Virgo or an INFJ for instance.
#9: Step outside your comfort zone:
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.- Thomas A. Edison
I have watched people shy away from leadership opportunities because of the inconvenience and discomfort it would cause them.
I had to learn the hard way that Growth begins at the edge of your comfort zone. Be discerning of the right battles or challenges that hold opportunities and welcome them. Then, amidst the fear, responsibilities, difficulties, and stress, Step out into the grind.
You will be surprised at how much growing and stretching capacity you have.
#10: Exercise self-awareness.
Self-awareness, according to Stephen R. Covey, is a human ability to mentally separate ourselves from the situation and even from our thinking process so we can see the code (thought processes, Deceptive Brain Messages) and patterns that are running. Then with independent will and conscience, we can proactively do something to change them or make them conform to the principles we live by.
Now, we can move on to leading others.
Wrapping it up.
Taking on a new responsibility or role can be nerve-racking; the fear of the spotlight, the uncertainty of your abilities, hatred for attention, and the dread of negative judgment.
Despite all these emotions, you are here, reading this article, because you want to give it not only ‘a shot’ but your ‘best shot’.
This very commitment to continuous growth, readiness to work hard, and eagerness to rise above challenges form the character base of high achievers.
If you followed our discussion, you may have discovered that Everyone already has at least a little experience in leadership. Realize your potential for leadership and let it spur you to better leadership.