Developing Self Leadership: Three Skills that Lead to Success
Contrary to common belief, self leadership is not a rare ability reserved only for the Mark Zuckerbergs and Oprah Winfreys of the world. It is a mindset and skill set that can be learned. In the newly released Leading at a Higher Level, my coauthors and I teach the three skills you’ll need to lead yourself to success.
The First Skill: Challenge Assumed Constraints
A self leader is a person who challenges assumed constraints.
An assumed constraint is a belief, based on past experience, that limits new experiences.
For example, when he challenged the assumed constraint that severe physical disabilities would limit his career, Steven Hawking used his knowledge and personal power to become one of the most celebrated physicists in history.
Or consider the example of the Nordstrom salesperson whose customer requested a perfume that Nordstrom didn’t carry. The salesperson said, “I’m sorry, we don’t sell that perfume. But I know where I can get it in the mall. How long will you be in our store?”
“About thirty minutes,” the customer said.
Rather than accept the assumed constraint of not having the right inventory, the salesperson went to another store, purchased the perfume the customer wanted, came back to Nordstrom, gift wrapped it, sold it at cost—and made a raving fan customer.
The Second Skill: Activate Points of Power
Skillful self leaders know how to activate their points of power—whether it’s knowledge power, personal power, relationship power, task power, or position power.
For example, many people assume that because they do not have direct authority or position power, they cannot be leaders or influence outcomes. Believing that you can’t make a decision or take initiative because it’s not specifically spelled out in your job description—or because you’re not rich enough, smart enough, famous enough, etc.—is an assumed constraint.
People can tap into several different points of power, and those who do often change the world. Mother Teresa—a minority Albanian who spoke broken English—did not begin her amazing career with a high position and authority within the church. She used her personal power to achieve her goal of bringing dignity to the destitute. Fame and success followed.
The Third Skill: Be Proactive
Self leaders have learned the power of being proactive—in other words, they know how to anticipate and manage problems and needs.
To be proactive, you need to learn how to diagnose your own development level—where you are in terms of your competence and commitment to get something done. If you don’t have the tools, skills, and competence to do a specific task or solve a specific problem, you need to ask for direction—someone to show you how. If you doubt yourself and are wavering on your commitment to complete a task, you need to ask for support—someone to cheer you on.
To give you an example, an entrepreneur realized she needed help with the accounting side of her business. While she thought she knew enough about basic bookkeeping to stay organized, her knowledge and good intentions hadn’t produced good results. Why? Because she needed direction to develop the skills to stay financially sound. And she needed support—in the form of a coach—to keep her commitment to stay on top of her small business finances.
When you go it alone—without getting the direction and support you need to stay on track—you’re less likely to succeed. The willingness to look inside, assess your shortcomings, and ask for help is the hallmark of a self leader.
This guest post was authored by Ken Blanchard
Ken Blanchard is the coauthor of the iconic New York Times bestseller The One Minute Manager®—revised and released as The New One Minute Manager®—as well as 65 other books whose sales total over 23 million copies. He’s on Twitter @kenblanchard