Leading ME Tips & Techniques
Becky S. Corbett, MSW, ACSW & Emily Tevault, MBA
As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. John C. Maxwell, Leadership Author and Speaker
Leadership begins with leading yourself. Leaders first model themselves, then lead others. In all of the roles in your life (employee, parent, supervisor, sibling, employer, child, volunteer), you are a leader in each. Leaders do not need titles as leadership is about character, decisions, and actions. Turn the mirror toward yourself—leading starts with YOU.
Principle: It’s All About You
To be a leader, the first person you need to lead is yourself. Be the leader of your journey and make your intentional growth a priority. Look in the mirror, focus on how others see you, and establish your brand. Take on the role of change agent to be a champion for transformation.
Strategy: Own Your Intentional Growth
Grow with purpose and own your intentional growth. If you do not lead your own growth, someone else will determine how and in what ways you will progress. An important part of your journey is to cultivate self-awareness. This allows you to recognize your strengths, how to work best with others, and identify opportunities for improvement. Tools such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), DISC®, 360 reviews, annual performance reviews, and leadership assessments help you discover your preferences and uncover ways to stretch out of your comfort zone. Develop your strengths and maximize your potential—YOU are worth the investment.
Strategy: Build Your Brand
A personal brand is determined by how you represent yourself and the impression you leave in the mind of others. What do you want people to say about you when you are not present? Three things that build the foundation of your brand are attitude, self-care, and reflection. Attitude is a choice, and is a combination of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. As such, having a positive outlook is critical to leading yourself. Self-care starts with ME and is about taking care of yourself so you can give your best to others. Mind, body, and spirit are all connected and each requires consistent attention. Take time to reflect and seize the opportunity to pause, learn from your experiences, generate new ideas, make decisions, and grow with purpose.
Strategy: Be A Change Agent
Change is constant and difficult, even when the necessity is clear. The key to fostering a positive transformation is effective change management. Leaders become change agents when they actively motivate and support others through the process. Champions of change who become leaders of change set the example, are widely respected, model trust, create buy-in, collaborate with others, and focus on solutions when obstacles arise. Leadership includes purposeful change that can transform a community, organization, and individual.
Principle: It’s All About Relationships
To be a leader, you need followers. To create followers, you must build relationships. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Make genuine connections by treating every person like they are the most important person in the world. Invest time in establishing long-term relationships. People need to know you care about and appreciate them.
Strategy: Communicate Effectively
Effective communication demonstrates you are invested in the relationship. Communicating openly and directly creates trust, avoids assumptions, and alleviates the fear of the unknown. You are responsible for all of the ways in which you communicate, including in-person, video conferencing, telephone, email, text, and over social media. Communication means truly hearing what the other person is saying and making sure you understand what is being communicated. Identify common ground with someone and learn from others by asking thoughtful questions. Listen to the individual’s response to inform the conversation. A “Coachable Moment” is taking advantage of a moment in time to give an individual immediate and specific feedback. Integrate them into your communication style by asking for, receiving, and providing coachable moments.
Strategy: Create Connections
Creating connections allows you to build successful relationships. An internal network supports your development. Look to all facets of your life to form a support system, including a mentor, coach, family member, friend, professor, colleague, spiritual advisor. Living the philosophy—good people connect with good people—gives you the opportunity to enhance connections within your network and invest in others. Bringing talent together allows you to leverage skills and experiences. Effective teams divide tasks, multiply successes, and deliver greater capacity. Teamwork increases your results.
Expressing gratitude takes you out of yourself so you can give to others. Sincere and thoughtful appreciation lets people know how much they are valued. Voice your appreciation by shifting the focus from yourself—it demonstrates how much you care about the individual and the relationship. Do not assume people know you value them—communicate your thoughts through words and actions. Receiving gratitude positively affects the level of commitment and productivity of those around you. A gracious thank you goes a long way for both the small and big things people do. Express gratitude and show your appreciation by being intentional, vulnerable, and specific. Leaders take the time to develop a genuine handwritten thank-you note, make a phone call, and publicly thank individuals.
Principle: It’s All about Action
To be a leader, you need to move ideas to action. Dream big to set your vision and communicate your passion. Make decisions, communicate them to others, and focus your attention and energy on your priorities. Show your commitment to yourself and others by being accountable for your actions.
Strategy: Dream Big
It starts with a dream. Dream, then dream bigger. Dreaming helps articulate your why, create a vision, state your purpose, and communicate your passion. To reach your aspirations, connect dreams to your strengths and definition of success. Bigger dreams necessitate more effort and require more people, resources, time, and trade-offs. Nobody accomplishes anything alone. Create a dream team of people who provide honest feedback and have complementary strengths. Dreams provide focus and motivate you to move to action.
Strategy: Make Decisions & Manage Your Priorities
The key to managing your time is making intentional decisions. Identify what you want to accomplish, what success looks like, and why it is important to you. Lead by using the Producktivity® Principles: Identify. Connect. Organize. Identify your options. All of the pieces of the puzzle are required to make an informed decision. Connect options with your values, vision, and resources. Making connections keeps you working toward your goals. Strengthen your why by taking time to reflect and ask yourself thought-provoking questions—why are you committing time to this decision? Organize how to spend your time and prioritize where to focus your attention and energy. If it is important to you, put it on your calendar.
Strategy: Hold Yourself Accountable
Accountability matters—to yourself and to others—it shows commitment to your relationships and for your actions. Be accountable for your growth, goals, brand, attitude, and self-care. Build trust by being accountable for decisions, communications, and results. Gain credibility by doing what you say you will do. Take responsibility for mistakes, express what you learn, and celebrate successes. Identify accountability partners to support you. The rate of achievement increases when you have people you are accountable to, such as a trusted colleague, mentor, coach, family member, friend.
Leadership begins with you. Leading in an organization, in your professional career, and in your personal life is all about you, your relationships, and your actions. The Leading ME principles and strategies support your becoming the leader of yourself and others. What is one way you are going to commit to Leading ME? Join the conversation below—share your thoughts and experiences.
Look in the mirror and reflect, “Am I leading ME?” Becky S. Corbett, MSW, ACSW
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