Newsletter #8: The hardest person to lead

I met some very interesting people this past week, and I had some memorable experiences too, one of which was spending over 5 hours in the airport lounge in Durban on Monday (16th Nov) while every flight on the board had red “delayed” indicators due to the hail in Jo’burg.  There were some very frustrated people, and some very chilled people in that airport. Which would you have been?

So during the long delay, instead of getting irritated, I decided rather to meet some fascinating people and I provided some light relief by offering the game of 30 Seconds I had in my lecturing gadget bag and passing the time having fun with a group of stranded strangers. So instead of being frustrated and bored, I made some new contacts, met an entrepreneur and a group of travel agents, had loads of fun, sold 2 copies of Porter’s Rule and had a taste of each of the wines they had on offer, some of which I actually remember.

At GIBS later in the week, I met some more really amazing and dynamic people whom I roped into being part of this newsletter from a content perspective. Wouldn’t it be useful to get some leading insights from some key people in SA industry from time to time instead of just yours truly?

Following on from last week’s newsletter, here is the second point I wanted to raise about being un-busy. Last week’s article was getting very long, so I split it into a separate article on its own.

One cure for busy people is to do the practical exercise I outlined last week. The second thing to work on is your ability to lead yourself. You’re not going to like me when I tell you that the one mainly to blame for being too busy is yourself.

If you’re doing too much, you need to make some conscious decisions about the things for which  you’re allowing yourself to be held responsible. Part of the reason we end up being so busy is because we’re unable to say no. And the reason we’re unable to say no is usually to do with our own assertiveness.

You can’t lead others until you can lead yourself.

If you haven’t heard this before you’ve probably been asleep most of your life, but what does it really mean to lead yourself? I ask this question often in class I often get the same answers.

The most common suggestion is that to lead yourself you have to have goals. I know people who have had the same goals for years and they’re no closer to reaching them now than they were 10 years ago.  Having goals is one thing. Doing something about realizing them is another thing entirely. To lead yourself means to know who you are and to be completely comfortable with who that person is. It means to have confidence in yourself in any situation. It doesn’t mean you have to have mastered every situation – that’s impossible. You have to be in control of how you deal with each one. Leading yourself means being comfortable admitting you can’t do something that you’re not capable of too and collaborating with people around you to draw on their strengths.

To be able to lead yourself means that you have to be completely authentic. That means being the same person on and off camera. You can’t confidently lead others while you’re still wrestling with your own insecurities. You can’t be what you think other people want to you to be if it isn’t genuine. You can’t fake confidence or honesty.

When you truly know yourself, you’re capable of leading others. Daniel Goleman (Primal Leadership) talks about leaders being human and being vulnerable. To know yourself means being comfortable to let people know you’re human, that you also have hopes and fears, and that you don’t have all the answers. Being a leader is about connecting with people on an emotional level, and understanding that people don’t want to see your pretenses or your masks, they want to connect with the real person.

Leading yourself means having Emotional Intelligence – being in control of your emotions, and understanding the emotions of others. This in itself is the topic for weeks of personal mastery workshops.

Working on knowing yourself is the beginning of being an effective leader both at the workplace and at home.

if you already know all this then the question I have for you is this: Are you leading yourself? And if your answer to that question is no then the question I have to ask you is Why not?

If you have some success stories or some challenges to share in your own journey, please share them with me.

Till next time.


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