Knowing Yourself to Lead Yourself

Have you ever been in a meeting or had a conversation with a colleague and you end up in a place where you have been misunderstood and things have got heated? You have no idea how you got there? It happens more often than you think. If you want to avoid these situations, the first rule of leadership is to know how to lead yourself. Knowing how to lead yourself will empower you to manage yourself which will increase your influence and effectiveness as a leader.

“You cannot lead others until you have first learned to lead yourself.” Robin S. Sharma

Knowing yourself is key to understanding how our tendencies or preferences lead to unintended consequences. These tendencies are hard-wired into us; they developed as you went through your childhood and are a result of your nature, the environment around you, and your choices. This all happens at an unconscious level. The great news is when this thinking and behaviour is made visible you can take action to change your results.

When I meet leaders for the first time, I like to ask two questions. The first is, how long have you been the leader here? And secondly, how happy are you with the reality of the team or organisation you lead?

The first question is about how much you, as the leader, are affecting the culture of the team or organisation you lead. The second, your level of satisfaction with their performance, communication, or whatever “X” factor you as leader want to look at.

If you have been the leader for more than two years, the culture around you will reflect your leadership style. There may be areas you can see that need improvement, so what will you change? How will you change? There are some brilliant tools that help you access your onboard tendencies.

If you are going to change the way that your teams work, then it starts with a growth in your foundational awareness. The more you know yourself the more you can lead yourself and you can create the environment where your teams get to be at their best as well.

Key Learning: You don’t have to be defined by your tendencies but discovering your leadership voice will bring you your “aha” moment where you realise – that’s what my tendency looks like; that’s what other are experiencing; that is why when I do that it sometimes has consequences I didn’t intend.

This visual shows the process. In default mode your tendencies lead to certain behaviours and lead to actions which have consequences for good or ill. These consequences then define your reality.

Changing Your Reality

1. Understanding your leadership voice allows you to move from accidental to intentional behaviour as you lead.

2. Growing in self-awareness is not a one-time only event, it is an ongoing process. A lifelong process.

3. You don’t have to be defined by your tendencies. The key is uncovering them so you can self-regulate and self-manage to increase your leadership influence and effectiveness.

4. The place where you can make the change and create a different reality is what behaviour and actions you decide to take in situations when you know what your tendency will be. You can decide not to default to your tendency when you know this will not get the best outcome. The real skill of a successful leader is intentionality between tendency and action.

As someone trained to use these tools and journey with leaders as they unlock their tendences it is amazing for me to see the light bulb moments when people recognise their tendencies for the first time. Comments like have you must have been reading my mail are not uncommon as people read through the words describing their tendencies.  

To improve your self-awareness and unlock your potential as a leader message me at to arrange an exploratory chat.

Picture of Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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