As the business world moves faster and faster, leaders must abandon old models that hasten them to frantically keep up in favor of more powerful paradigms that more wisely leverage their talent, teams and time.
We need a better way. Leaders can improve the situation, as well as their results, by investing in their own possibilities - transforming their business by transforming themselves.
Now and in the years to come, successful leaders will be the ones who practice personal leadership.
Personal leadership is the ability to tap into your rich stores of potential in each and every leader, so that they bring their very best to the attainment of a powerful vision.
Traditionally, leadership evokes images of the visionary. Leaders have the ability to engage and empower an effective team, define and focus on priorities, tie action to a well-defined and relevant mission, and elicit results through motivation, persuasion and encouragement. In this way, they create and attain a new future for a group of people, an organization, or a business.
Yet all of these things presume a sound personal core. Leaders must also work on themselves to be convincing in all these endeavors. That's where personal leadership comes in.
In a very positive, unselfish way, personal leadership means putting yourself first. Literally speaking, personal means 'about you;' leadership means 'coming first.' It's about you coming first - but doing so in the service of the greater good as you propel yourself and others toward your vision. It's about moving forward confident in the knowledge that when you are at your best, people will follow.
Let's look at some of the defining characteristics of personal leadership.
Renewing: Unlike a take-no-prisoners approach to leadership, personal leadership offers an element of renewal - a way for leaders to slow down and move forward in a way that sustains their energy, brainpower and enthusiasm.
Rewarding: You don't have to leave your high-powered job to do volunteer work in Third World countries to find meaning and fulfillment. You can find your sense of purpose in your heart and bring it to your work, no matter what you do for a living.
Reflective: Personal leadership relies on thoughtfulness. It involves constant questioning about where you are, where you're going, what's working, what's not working, and what needs to change. In the machine-gun model of leadership, reflection is the "aim" that's gone missing. Reflection is a way of improving your marksmanship so you know you'll hit your targets every time.
Respectful: One grave issue with current models of leadership is the threat they pose to quality of life. In the name of achievement, leaders everywhere are sacrificing their health, their home life and their happiness. Personal leadership respects the needs of leaders as well as their results.
Raising the Bar: You might think that all of these attributes require a trade-off in productivity and progress. The opposite is actually true. Instead of just meeting expectations, you exceed them. Personal leadership makes it possible to do more, be more, have more, achieve more, and do it with more zeal.
Personal leadership is about leading from within. It is the foundation for all leadership, whether it's the leadership of ideas, of other people, or of organizations. It is clarity of self - of who you are, what you stand for, where you're going, and what you have to contribute. It is the management of your gifts, strengths and talents toward your purpose. It is the constant striving for improvement, a commitment to growth and a devotion to being the best you you can be. Finally, it is the expression of oneself in a way that achieves a compelling vision and a significant contribution.
Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D. is an executive coach who strategizes with business leaders to enhance performance and maximize business results. Her book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership ( http://joellekjay.com/the-inner-edge/ ), reveals the leadership strategies practiced in America's most successful and admired companies by their highest achieving leaders. Her free newsletter, Inner Edge Insights, offers articles, exercises, tips, quotes, and success stories from real leaders to help you excel. Subscribe now! Click here: http://joellekjay.com/the-inner-edge/the-inner-edge-quarterly/.