How to Lead Through Self-Management

While engaging with other people is a staple of being a good manager, being a successful leader lies in something more: the ability to manage yourself. The world is full of executives who spend their days strategizing and weighing external outcomes, but real leadership means looking inward to find how your own strengths, values, and assets can help you manage yourself as well as others.

This process has many pieces to it, but at the heart of it, there are a few core principles that play a vital role in being a leader (versus a manager) and getting the impactful results you want:

Spend your time and energy improving on strengths instead of weaknesses.
This concept is based on the idea that it takes far more to get from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. As a leader and influencer, why would you spend all of your time and energy trying to be a jack of all trades and a master of none? It’s important to recognize early on that successful individuals excel in one or two areas, as this focus allows them to pursue excellence rather than settling for a skill set that, while multi-faceted, proves generally lackluster.

Do not try to change yourself, you are unlikely to succeed. Work to improve the way you perform.
All people are different, which means individuals perform best under different conditions. But overall, performance can be tied to the following questions:

How do you process information: reading or listening?
How do you learn best: listening, reading, writing, doing, or talking?
How do you work best: alone, in a team, as a coach/mentor, or as a subordinate?
How do you produce the best results, as decision maker or advisor?

Think about these four categories carefully to decide if you are putting yourself in a position to perform best. What’s working, and what can you do more of?

To be effective in an organization, a person’s values should be compatible with those of their employer.
Before you become a successful and innovative leader, you need to discover what comprises your core values. What shapes your ideology and way of life? What do you really, truly care about on a fundamental level? It’s important to know if these things align with your employer.

Think about it from a few different perspectives:

Human Resources: What if you value promoting employees from within, but your employer values hiring from the outside first.
Research and Development: What if you prefer small but consistent improvements, but your employer values larger breakthroughs that sporadically improve the bottom line.
Marketing and Sales: What if you’re a big proponent of new customer acquisition, but your employer values existing customer retention?

Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person (hard-working and competent but otherwise mediocre) into an outstanding performer.
Successful careers are not planned; they develop when people know their strengths, values, and style of working. When these things are in place, you are in a more educated position to make better career choices. In addition, you’ll have the courage to better negotiate roles and responsibilities of your position (“Yes, I’ll do that, but this is the way it should be structured” or “This is a good start, but our relationship should morph into something that benefits both partners.”)

Contributions should be ambitious, meaningful, visible, and measurable
Three questions often come up when you’re evaluating your own contributions:

What does the situation require?
Given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done?
What results have to be achieved to make a difference?

When working towards a goal or objective, the results of your work should not be easy to achieve. Be ambitious – reach for something that requires you to step outside your comfort zone or preferred way(s) of thinking, while also ensuring it makes a difference in your organization in a highly visible, measurable way. Even if you don’t fully succeed in your goal, the experience you had in trying to get to that level may work for the better.

Want to know more? Contact Linda Barita at 216.391.7766 or email to schedule an appointment with our Growth Advisory Team.

Posted by Sam Wasylyshyn in Management

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