Leadership Starts with You!

Leadership Starts with You!


With all the models and frameworks out there I sometimes wonder if we have taken the simplicity out of leadership. We seem to have a knack of overcomplicating things to the point where leadership becomes so complex that it’s out of most peoples reach.

The question of why we do what we do has always fascinated me. I’ve always believed that if I can discover what is driving your emotions and behaviour, I could work with you to achieve whatever breakthrough you were looking for.

Whether it’s at self, 1 to 1, team or organisational level, in the end leadership is about influence.

Anyone can occupy a position on an organisational chart, but how many people can influence others positively? I love the quote below, and also curious about why you would want to be that person that inspires others to not give up?


I believe in order to influence others positively you have to be congruent, if not, you may not come across as believable. If you don’t want anyone else to give up, then you must display that same resilience and demonstrate a level of self-leadership that inspires the people around you to say things like “because of you I didn’t give up.”

The number one reason that most people are not as successful as they want to be is because of themselves. In the end it comes down to self-leadership in all its iterations. Before you lead anyone else, lead yourself. It will make your people leadership so much easier. Better people make better leaders.

I recently had quite a challenging question thrown at me. “How do you lead yourself, when you need to grow and improve your competence but your company does not seem interested in your development and doesn’t allow you to attend training courses?”

I want to say get out of there as fast as you can, however, that’s not even close to being a practical solution so here are 5 self-leadership golden nuggets that I have picked up along my journey that will compliment what I have already shared in my previous article “Live On Purpose”.

These are relevant to you whether you are an individual contributor or a people leader since they both start with you.

1.Be grateful for what you have right now. 

Employment is a privilege, not a right. Instead of saying, “I have to go to work”, rather say, “I get to go to work”. If your Purpose is clearly defined and robust, then you may take a very different view of the day-to-day drama that the corporate world brings with it.

Once you know what you are dealing with (like a company or leader that won’t develop you), then you can come up with an alternative strategy that works for you. I certainly would never leave my growth up to someone who is not as invested in my life as I am.

2.Find out exactly what your company expects from you. 

Not just at a KPA level, but also values, leadership competencies and whatever behaviours your company believes epitomises a good corporate citizen. Then give them that plus 10 percent.

3.Work on your personal brand. 

You may want to determine if your personal brand works for you or against you. In today’s world, you don’t want to leave your personal brand to chance.

In order to achieve your personal and professional goals, having a brand that works for you to create a positive emotional response in others is going to go a long way in determining how successful you are.

After every seminar I run I always suggest to people that they need to update their company records or CV with the details of the program I’ve just presented. When last did you update your info on LinkedIn?

4.Improve your competence. 

If your company won’t invest in you then invest in yourself. You want to be number 1 in your world. (By your world I mean team, department or company). Do whatever it takes to improve your value proposition. There are tons of books; articles and free online courses that will help you get to the top of your game.

Hold regular 1 on 1’s with your boss and show them you are interested in your personal development. If they still won’t help, don’t give up. It’s too easy to give up and tell yourself a self-defeating story. Look at your personal growth as if your life depends on it. You want to be on top when people come looking for talent.

With limited time, or opportunity to experiment we intentionally narrow our choices to those at the top” ~Seth Godin

5.Learn how to get on with as many people as you can. 

The ability to connect with and relate to others will make you memorable. People will do far more for someone they like and trust, than for someone they don’t. In a world that’s constantly making people feel inferior, reach out and make a difference. Just using someone’s name and really listening to them will make him or her see you differently.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  ~Maya Angelou

So, to answer my earlier question, I believe that serving others is your highest calling. To me, that’s the only reason to inspire people, so that they don’t give up and one day they can make a positive difference to someone else, just like you did for them.

Hank van der Merwe
Leadership Development Strategist | Coach  | Author


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