What is self-leadership?


When we discuss self-leadership, we often address things like the self-direction and self-motivation needed to lead ourselves through a task or goal.

Goal setting, mental practice, self-monitoring, and designing natural rewards are aspects of self-leadership. For me, the difference between traditional leadership and self-leadership is the absence of a manager that would normally generate the motivation or initiative to accomplish a task in an organization.

If you are a self-leader, you will often exhibit:

  • Mental practice: Asking yourself questions like: Can I do this?
  • Self-monitoring: How does this make feel? Am I doing this task successfully?
  • Cueing strategies: How can I use what is available to me to prompt action within myself to remember, follow through, and check my progress?
  • Setting personal goals: What will be a measure of my successful completion of this task?
  • Designing natural rewards: How can I reward myself after I meet my goal?
  • Self-reinforcement: Did I do a good job today? Did I give my task 100% of my effort?

As the youngest member of the family; my brother, and my parents, who met as students at University, have always encouraged me. As we got older, it was always implied that we should attain undergraduate degrees at a minimum, if not higher and attain the same education level as my parents who both have master’s degrees.

It was never an unhappy expectation because both my brother and I are a lot like my parents who enjoy learning and are ambitious in what we hope to achieve in life. As a result, I think that this is where I derived my self-leadership. It’s as though I have always had an intrinsic force that pushes me toward accomplishing my goals.

I like to set goals for the week, month, and season. I practice positive self-talk and use my imagination to envision where I would like to be in the future. Sometimes, if I meet a personal goal (like exercising a certain amount, or finishing a project early), I will reward myself by booking a vacation day, or eating a delicious meal.

Finally, I use a memory book (similar to a diary but only with photos) to self-monitor and keep track of where I was three or more years ago. I can visually see through pictures or notes that I made, how far I have come from the issues I faced at that time in my life. I think that many of my accomplishments are due to my ability to find motivation, set goals, and using cueing strategies to get things done.

What strategies do you use to self-lead? Leave your answer in the comments below!


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