The temptation for all leaders is to be significant, remarkable, and controlling. If leadership is nothing more and nothing less than influence, then having one’s view be the prevailing opinion is important. When someone goes against those prevailing thoughts, the leader’s temptation is to fall back into a “‘command and control’” posture.
The only antidote to overcoming both the temptations and disagreements is learning the art of self-leadership. I have written a great deal about the importance of self-leadership in my books and blogs, but I would like to take a different approach in enhancing your ability to lead yourself so that you can truly lead for the sake of others. The approach is in the power of the question. So here are the three questions:
1. Who depends on you?
One of the most important people in my life just asked that question to me as I was commiserating how difficult it is to change certain habits, particularly busyness. I often find myself saying “‘yes’” to many opportunities which often means I am saying “‘no’” to those who depend upon me, including myself. Make a list of who really depends on you. Prioritize them if possible. Self-leadership starts with clarity on who is most important in your life. We have a responsibility toward those who depend upon us. Fulfilling that responsibility successfully will develop your self-leadership skills.
2. What do they depend on you for?
After you have listed the people who depend upon you, write down the things they depend on you for. For example, my wife Bobbi depends on me to be consistently loving in my actions, to be healthy so we can have a long life together, to take the lead in our spiritual journey together, and to provide financially for our present and future. Better than coming up with ideas yourself, why not ask those you listed who depend on you, “‘what do they depend on you for?’” It provides excellent conversation and some very precious and honest moments.
3. What do I need to eliminate in order to live out the answers to the first two questions?
One very important key to both happiness and purpose is simplicity. Start eliminating the things in your life that do not answer the first two questions. Self-leadership is an awareness of what is true, important, and strategic in helping you become the person you were designed to be in this life.
Note by editor: In light of these questions, we would like to encourage you to respond to this blog by giving examples in your own life. This way we can help one another grow as servant leaders and in particular, self-leadership. Thank you.