Personal Leadership for Peak Performance
By Joelle Jay
Much has been made of the word "leadership" in business as a way of inspiring better performance. Leaders must not only think of leading others, however. They must also know how to lead themselves.
The definition of leadership is simply "the act of leading;" a leader is simply "one who leads." The definition of personal leadership is quite literally "leadership of oneself," or the act of taking the lead in one's own life.
Those who assume personal leadership become the lead - the person in a position of advantage - because they take initiative, because they are able to come up with the solutions they need, and because they are able to take advantage of the opportunities (the 'leads') that come their way. As such, they become an example, setting a precedent for and inspiring others.
We can summarize this trail of thought this way: those who excel in personal leadership will be the ones who take the lead - in their organizations, in their businesses, and in their lives.
Personal leadership is the act of taking initiative for oneself. It is understanding that no one else is leading your life but you. You need to be the leader of your own life: setting the agenda, choosing the priorities, taking the action. You need to bring out the best in yourself, because no one else can do that for you.
You need to know your strengths and weaknesses, and you need to know what fulfills you. You need to have a sense of the contribution you have to make, then arrange your time and commitments to make it. You need to learn to leverage other people - not to be take advantage of them, but in a spirit of collaboration and support. You need to keep learning, on and on throughout your life so that you are keeping up with the pace of change - both the changes in your own life and the changes all around you.
You need to learn how to stay open to the possibilities, recognizing that there are forces at work that are bigger than you and may help you achieve your goals (and more) beyond what you're able to do for yourself.
In other words, even though personal leadership is a way of making things happen, there's also a way in which you can also learn to let them happen. Finally, skillful personal leadership means learning to integrate and align all the parts of your life so that you live and lead with integrity. That is the source of your personal power, and the ultimate path to a more natural, easier, more effective you.
How is that different from "regular" leadership? Frankly, it shouldn't be. Nevertheless, the term "leadership" has been appropriated by the business world to mean something like, "the ways in which people in positions of power get to determine the direction for other people and the whole organizations."
This definition gets leadership backwards. Leaders earn the followership of others by having the kind of clarity, vision and commitment that they would be inspired to follow - all of which depend upon personal leadership.
Personal leadership does indeed honor the rights of people to understand what will enrich their lives, but only for the sake of being their best - for themselves, for other people, for their organizations, for the world.
Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D. ( http://www.JoelleKJay.com ) is an executive coach, speaker and author who strategizes with business leaders to enhance performance and maximize business results. Her book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, reveals the leadership strategies practiced by the highest achieving leaders in America's most successful and admired companies. 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://www.JoelleKJay.com.
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