Three Practical Ways to Exert Self-Leadership

What You Can Do to Lead Yourself Better

Our society today has a self-leadership crisis. It doesn’t matter where we look—business, politics, entertainment—we see its effects.

Self-Leadership

The news regularly reports about the financial improprieties of business executives. Politicians get caught all the time doing something they knew they should not do. And the grocery store tabloid headlines are always proclaiming how such and such movie star is cheating on so-and-so.

Despite how little self-leadership is practiced today, our society depends upon it. Here are three practical ways you can exert your self-leadership.

3 Things That Get in the Way of Your Self-Awareness

Why You Don’t Know What’s Really Going On

Our society today has a self-awareness crisis. It doesn’t matter where we look—business, politics, entertainment—we see its effects. The news regularly reports about the financial improprieties of business executives. Politicians get caught all the time doing something they knew they should not do. And the grocery store tabloid headlines are always proclaiming how such and such movie star is cheating on so-and-so.

Self-Awareness

We see people in positions of authority at our workplaces doing things that we think are ill-informed at best and malicious at worst. We see people around us making poor choices that are out of our control and we shake our heads, saying we would do things differently if given the choice. It seems like everyone around us has lost their mind—everyone except ourselves, of course.

But perhaps we are not so immune from making poor choices as we might think. As Dan Ariely tells us in his book Predictably Irrational, “Even good people are not immune to being partially blinded by their own minds.” Dr. Ariely goes on to explain that “we are pawns in a game whose forces we largely fail to comprehend. We usually think of ourselves as sitting in the driver’s seat, with ultimate control over the decisions we make and the direction our life takes; but, alas, this perception has more to do with our desires—with how we want to view ourselves—than with reality.”

If we are more concerned with how we want to view ourselves than with reality, then we will not be self-aware. And these are three things that will get in the way of our self-awareness.

A Five-Step Process to Build Morale in Your Company

How You as a Leader Can Create a Team Culture

As a leader, one of your greatest assets is the morale of your team. How you wield your influence can profoundly affect the culture of your organization. The more intentional and consistent you are in building the culture, the greater the benefits you will see from your leadership. That’s why it is so important to create a build morale in your company.

Build Morale

Most of the time morale is noticed only because it’s lacking. No one typically thinks about morale if it’s good. You will do everyone on your team a favor if they don’t notice the (lack of) morale in your company.

Here are five ways you can build morale in your company—and create a Team Culture in the process.

A New Way to Look at Difficult Employees

What Do You Do With Your Problem Employees?

How do you look at the difficult employees on your team? Could it be that you are looking at them the wrong way?

difficult employees

I’m not saying that everyone is fixable. It may ultimately be better for everyone if the difficult employees wouldn’t work at your organization anymore. I think Abraham Lincoln got it right when he said that people are usually as happy as they make up their minds to be. Nonetheless, you may be the one to help those difficult employees change their minds.

Difficult people have been through difficult stuff. And hurt people hurt people. If you just pass them off as difficult employees then you may be missing a huge opportunity—for them and for you.

Here are three questions you can use to look at difficult employees differently.

“We’re not heroes.”

But It Is Possible to Become a Hero

In the Walt Disney film adaptation of C.S. Lewis classic The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the Beavers explain to the Pevensie children why they have come to Narnia and what their destiny is. Incredulous at the Beavers’ insistence that they are somehow the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, Peter Pevensie (William Moseley) tells the Beavers, “I think you’ve made a mistake. We’re not heroes.” Despite his protests to the contrary, the Beavers remain convinced that the Pevensies are indeed the warriors who will save all of Narnia and one day become its rulers.

heroes

Just like Peter Pevensie, in any situation we face, we feel we know ourselves. But in fact, we may know ourselves too well. Like Peter, we think we know who we are. When opportunities for greatness appear, we feel we are not qualified. When the hero’s entrance is announced, we look for someone else. We don’t suppose that it could actually be ourselves.

But Peter’s confession is the seed of true greatness. When we admit that we’re not heroes, we aren’t trying to fool ourselves into believing that we are better than we are. At the same time, we cannot disqualify ourselves from the assignment God has prepared for us. We should admit that we’re not heroes, but we should also believe that God could use us to be more than we believed possible. In other words, it’s fine to say, “We’re not heroes,” but we should also be willing to become heroes.

Becoming a hero is easier than being a hero. But it requires intentional thinking to know where you’re headed. Ask yourself these questions to focus your mind on the direction you want to go.

New Situations Require New Paradigms

Do you want to get what you’ve always got?

When I was in sixth grade, I was pretty good at guessing. I couldn’t see the blackboard that well from where I sat, so I learned how to recognize the patterns of the letters and numbers. But when I was preparing to go to junior high, I thought it would be worth getting glasses so that I could see the board. I knew I would be at a new school with new kids I had never met before, so I figured that would be a good time to make the change and get new glasses. If I wanted to see the board, I realized I would have to make a change. I couldn’t expect to see the board without doing something different. As much as I didn’t want to have glasses, I wanted to be able to see the board more. So I was willing to make a change. Because new situations require new paradigms.

Paradigms

You will face similar situations in your life. You may not want to have to change, but you will feel the pain of not changing is greater than the discomfort of doing something different.

I tell my clients all the time that if you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got. The thinking that brought you to where you are is not usually the thinking that will get you to where you want to go. You have to be willing to change the way that you think. Because new situations require new paradigms.

Based on the parable Jesus told in Luke 5:36-39, here are three ways people resist making changes in how they perceive things.

How Well Do You Represent Your Employer?

Be Aware of Your Attitude in the Office and Out of the Office

Many years ago I worked for a guy I’ll call Greg. Working with Greg was awkward. He badmouthed his boss in the office, but in public he spoke favorably about him. To outsiders, he seemed like a good team player, but those of us who worked for him knew otherwise. Then Greg got a promotion that gave him even greater autonomy. His role involved more travel and he had more opportunities to represent his boss and the organization. While he was competent at what he did, he still did not have a positive opinion of his boss.

Represent Your Employer

One day, Greg’s opinions caught up to him. He was dismissed for disloyalty to his boss and to the organization. Despite getting caught, he did not express remorse over how he handled the situation. Instead he blamed his boss.

When Greg said disparaging things about his boss, it was less a statement about his boss and more a statement about himself. While he represented his boss he also represented himself, and what he said about his boss within the office reflected poorly on himself.

When you represent your boss, you also represent yourself. How you conduct yourself representing your employer says a lot about you. Perhaps you complain about your employer to others so that they will join you in complaining about their employers. At best, it drags you down to a lower level. At worst, it poisons your relationship with other people and damages your prospects at getting employed elsewhere.

It is up to you whether you change your attitude and choose to represent yourself and your employer in a way that honors both you and your company. No one can improve your attitude for you. You have to be the one who will decide to change your attitude.

Whether you deal directly with customers or not, you represent your employer to people in your sphere of influence. Here are three areas in which you should monitor your attitude to represent yourself and your organization well.

What Does Integrity Mean to You?

Is Your Sunday Separate from Your Monday?

Before I started Transformational Impact LLC, I worked with my friend Ben Case. Ben is reputedly one of the best major gift fundraisers in the world, having helped nonprofits raise more than $4.8 billion in his 41 years in fundraising and nonprofit management. Ben has also been a hallmark of honesty and integrity as long as I have known him. He tells a powerful story to explain the importance of integrity.

Integrity

I was in a meeting with my wife, Angela, and Robert McFarland, at the time a consultant with our company. … I was deeply resisting something Angela insisted I do. Angela thought that, as a business owner, I was required by law to do this. Our lawyer acknowledged there were “gray areas” as to the applicability of the law to our work. Give me “gray areas” and I will run with it forever. I did not want to do what Angela was telling me to do! Then Robert, who had been observing the discussion and my strong resistance, simply asked, “Ben, when are you going to have integrity—some of the time or all of the time?”

Live with integrity. In the walk of life, you will always be glad you did. Integrity means all the time. …

I did follow my wife’s advice, and am glad I did.

As Ben said, integrity means all the time. It is possible to be honest in one situation but not in another, but you can’t choose to have integrity one day and not the next. It’s all or nothing. Either you have integrity or you don’t.

In his book The Deeper Life, Daniel Henderson gives a good definition of integrity: “Integrity is a life where all the pieces fit together.” If you have integrity, then your life is integrated. You are not one way with some people and another way with other people. You are the same person all the time.

Henderson also explains what integrity is not: “compartmentalization is the opposite of integrity.” If you have to keep one part of your life separate from the rest of your life, you lead a compartmentalized life. If your Sunday is separate from your Monday through Saturday, you do not have an integrated life.

Integrity is about being honest with yourself: you know the real truth about the person you see in the mirror. You may be able to fool other people, but you can’t fool yourself. And you have to be with yourself all the time, so you know if you are trustworthy.

You need to be trustworthy all the time if you want to be trusted all the time. Here are three things to keep in mind to help you exhibit integrity.

How Do You Define Yourself?

What Gives You Your Identity?

What makes you you? When someone says to you, “Tell me about yourself,” what do you say? Are you the profession you chose? Are you the organizations that you belong to? Or are you your ethnicity? What is it that you allow to define yourself?

define yourself

Many people assume their identity stems from who they believe they are, and many take their identity from external realities. When asked what they do, they respond, “I am an architect.” Or “I am a dentist.” By responding that way, they allow their profession to define them.

Others define themselves by the organizations they are part of. They may say, “I am the NRA.” Or “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” I think it’s great to be part of organizations. God made people to be relational, so it is perfectly fine to be part of organizations. But when people allow organizations to define them to the point of giving them their identity, then that becomes a problem.

Then there are others who allow themselves to be defined by their ethnicity. They may describe themselves as Scottish, or Chinese, or African (all three of those ethnicities live in my house), and I think it’s great to be proud of your ethnic heritage. But when your ethnicity defines who you are, then you lose your identity to your national origin.

So how should you think about your identity? Here are three principles to guide your thinking in that context.

Clean the Barnacles off of Your Mind

Remove What Has Become Attached to Your Thinking

Have you ever seen barnacles attached to a ship? These little crustaceans latch onto a marine vessel and hold onto the ship to feed. While they may seem harmless enough, they cause many problems for the vessel. Similarly, you can have things that become attached to your mind over time. You may not be aware of them at first, but eventually they can cause you many problems.

barnacles

People who work on a ship understand that it’s important to remove the barnacles. In the same way, it’s important for you to get remove these things that have become attached to your mind.

Here’s what you want to prevent becoming attached to your mind, how they are similar to barnacles, and what you can do to clean those things from your mind.