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The Best Leaders Lead Themselves: The Importance of Self-Leadership

Updated: Mar 19, 2023

Aspiring leaders often focus on developing skills and abilities to lead others. While this is undoubtedly important, what's often overlooked is the importance of leading oneself. The best leaders understand that they must first lead themselves before they can lead others effectively. This is what self-leadership is all about. In this article, we'll explore the importance of self-leadership and how it can make you a better leader.

What is Self-Leadership?

Self-leadership is the ability to take responsibility for one's actions and decisions, to set and achieve goals, and to manage one's own emotions and behaviours. It involves having a clear understanding of one's values, strengths, and weaknesses, and using this understanding to make informed choices and act in a way that aligns with one's goals and values.

The Four Pillars of Self-Leadership

Self-leadership is made up of four key pillars:


Self-awareness is the foundation of self-leadership. It involves being conscious of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, and how they impact yourself and others. It's about understanding your strengths and weaknesses behaviours and using this understanding to make informed choices.


Self-management is the ability to control your emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, and to act in a way that aligns with your goals and values. It involves being disciplined, organized, and focused, and being able to resist distractions and temptations.


Self-motivation is the ability to drive yourself forward, even when faced with challenges or setbacks. It involves having a clear vision of what you want to achieve and being committed to that vision. It's about being persistent, resilient, and determined.


Self-development is the commitment to continuously learn, grow, and improve. It involves seeking out new experiences, feedback, and opportunities for growth, and using these to develop new skills and knowledge.

Why is Self-Leadership Important?

Self-leadership is important for several reasons:

1. It Enables You to Lead by Example

As a leader, your behaviour sets the tone for your team. If you're not able to lead yourself effectively, it's unlikely that you'll be able to inspire and motivate others to do the same. By leading by example, you can create a culture of self-leadership within your team.

2. It Enhances Your Decision-Making Skills

Self-leadership requires you to make informed choices and take responsibility for your decisions. This can enhance your decision-making skills, which is an essential quality for any leader.

3. It Improves Your Emotional Intelligence

Self-leadership involves managing your own emotions and understanding how they impact others. This can improve your emotional intelligence, which is a key skill for building strong relationships with others.

4. It Boosts Your Confidence and Resilience

Self-leadership involves setting and achieving goals, and continuously improving yourself. This can boost your confidence and resilience, making it easier for you to navigate challenges and setbacks.

How to Develop Self-Leadership

Developing self-leadership is a journey, and it's one that requires ongoing effort and commitment. Here are some steps you can take to develop your self-leadership skills:

1. Practice Self-Awareness

Start by becoming more self-aware. Pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, and how they impact yourself and others. Use tools like journaling, meditation, or self-reflection to help you become more aware of yourself.

2. Set Goals

Set clear, specific, and measurable goals for yourself, and develop a plan to achieve them. Make sure your goals are aligned with your values and vision for your life.

3. Take Responsibility for Your Actions

Take responsibility for your choices and decisions. Don't blame others for your mistakes or shortcomings. Instead, learn from them and use them as opportunities for growth.

4. Practice Self-Discipline

Develop self-discipline by setting boundaries, managing your time effectively, and prioritizing your tasks. Resist the urge to procrastinate or give in to distractions.

5. Seek Feedback

Seek feedback from others to help you identify areas for improvement. Be open to constructive criticism and use it as a tool for growth.

6. Continuously Learn and Grow

Commit to lifelong learning and development. Seek out new experiences, read books, attend workshops or seminars, and surround yourself with people who challenge and inspire you.


The best leaders understand that they must first lead themselves before they can lead others effectively. Self-leadership is about taking responsibility for your actions and decisions, setting and achieving goals, managing your emotions and behaviours, and continuously learning and growing. By developing your self-leadership skills, you can become a better leader and inspire those around you to do the same.


  1. What are the benefits of self-leadership?

  • Self-leadership can enable you to lead by example, enhance your decision-making skills, improve your emotional intelligence, and boost your confidence and resilience.

  1. How can I develop self-leadership skills?

  • You can develop self-leadership skills by practising self-awareness, setting goals, taking responsibility for your actions, practising self-discipline, seeking feedback, and continuously learning and growing.

  1. Can anyone develop self-leadership skills?

  • Yes, anyone can develop self-leadership skills with effort and commitment.

  1. Is self-leadership more important than leading others?

  • No, both self-leadership and leading others are important for effective leadership.

  1. Can self-leadership skills be applied outside of work?

  • Yes, self-leadership skills can be applied to all aspects of life, including personal relationships, hobbies, and health and wellness.


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