Self Leadership

By Fran LaMattina, PhD, MCC

Three years before I became a coach, I engaged a coach for my own leadership growth.  As I look back over my initial experience of being coached, I realize that the most important part of my early work focused on growing in self-awareness, which led to strides in emotional intelligence and self-leadership. I find these principles to be at the core of successful leaders. The grounded, confident leaders I’ve had the privilege of knowing and coaching have developed an intentional lifestyle of making the choice to be personally responsible for their own growth as a person and as a leader.

As an Executive Coach, I have learned that the term self-leadership is not commonly used or understood.  Many of us have thought that leadership training is something we engage with in our college or university lives, and a majority of our reading and learning ends there. Or, we expect our employer to sponsor us for “continuing education” as a part of our work experience.  We develop skills required as we (hopefully) move up the corporate ladder, but the higher we go, the more self-leadership becomes the key to our success.  We must become self-feeders, identifying personal areas of growth around knowing ourselves and choosing to rise to be our better selves.

Most of us have to make this intentional choice along the way to grow in self-leadership. I know I did.  We all have different areas we must pay attention to in order to lead ourselves and others well. We read about these difficult transitions, but few people really decide to apply these powerful behaviors of self-leadership to their daily lives. There were two areas that were the most difficult for me: choosing not to blame anyone else for my challenges and mistakes, and giving away the credit for anything that I wanted to take for myself.

Choosing not to blame others for mistakes, shortcomings, misunderstandings, missed commitments…any form of missing the mark…is a difficult practice.  It requires us to absorb the reality that life isn’t always fair.  It exposes us as humans who sometimes make mistakes.  It forces us to become humble, which is not usually a desired outcome.  But, it’s one of the levers that enables us to be vulnerable and transparent.  This choice often provides and exceptional opportunity to grow in emotional intelligence, personal responsibility, and, ultimately, self-leadership.

Giving away credit for outcomes I have been leading or a major contributor of its success is another humbling process.  I remember the day I decided to take this on as a personal practice.  It was so difficult!  I felt stripped of the affirmation we all crave after completing a difficult task or project.  But, any big accomplishment requires a team of people, and everyone deserves to be affirmed, not just the leader of the team.  This practice has led me to a posture of gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside the talented people I know, and learn from them.  We lead ourselves from the posture of being team members, and acknowledging the growth we wouldn’t experience without their impact on our lives.

I have established a practice of selecting one area of self-leadership each year to raise my own personal standard of growth.  The two I’ve mentioned were the backdrop of learning the change is a slow process, and it’s easy to abandon it when we fail to live up to the goal.  That’s why I choose a year at a time to either learn a new practice, or unlearn an old one.  It has made my personal journey of self-leadership practical and effective.  What area would you like to challenge yourself that would make your life better?




Contact Fran to help select your year-long area of leadership growth.