What comes to mind when you see the word “leadership”? Inspiration? Clarity of vision? Or is it slight indifference, thinking “I don’t really lead anyone”? We often think of leadership in the context of others – of leading a team or being led by someone else. However, to lead others we first need to lead ourselves. It’s important to reframe leadership to see it as something personal that starts from within. Leadership expert Stephen Covey says: “Leadership is a choice, not a position.”
Picture someone you consider to be a good leader. What are their personal qualities? Focus? Courage? Self-awareness? Integrity? Resilience? None of these qualities are “super-human”, but are you demonstrating them?
Good leaders demonstrate consistent behaviours and qualities, choosing to show up as their best selves more of the time. They are fair and consistent. When you interact with others, are you consistent or do you change depending on who you are with or how you feel?
Good leaders reflect and check their actions and behaviours and the outcomes they are driving. When they recognise they are lacking, they change and get back on track. Do you stop and reflect, or are you too busy juggling demands?
There’s a saying, “how you do anything is how you do everything”. Think about what you have done today and how you have done it. If applied consistently, would this approach get you the outcome you want? It is about consistently trying to do your best.
Success is driven by understanding what’s important to you and what you want to achieve, through clarity about your values and vision. You may have progressed in your career without thinking about what’s important to you and where you wanted to get to personally and professionally: as long as you jumped the next hurdle, you were doing okay. You can find yourself thinking, “how did I get here?” Personal leadership means proactively thinking about what you want, and why. Clarify your destination and your motivation to take positive steps forward and control your own outcomes.
Confidence in yourself is essential to personal and professional success. Take a moment to list five key strengths that demonstrate “you at your best”. Confidence comes from understanding your strengths and how to leverage them. The more time you spend doing what you’re good at, the happier, more successful and more resilient you will be.
Self-leadership involves self-care, building your own resilience so that you can care about your work and deal with pressures without burnout or compassion fatigue. Become comfortable with being responsibly selfish, confidently saying “no” sometimes and putting your needs first.
You lead every day, regardless of your practice position. You lead clients, colleagues, friends and loved ones through your words and actions. Start small, get clear on your values and your strengths. When applied consistently, they’ll provide confidence to move forwards. Think about what you want from life and take daily action to become who you want to be. Personal leadership is about making positive choices each day about how you show up for your patients, clients, colleagues and loved ones.