Sunday, August 9, 2009

Keys To Leading Yourself

by John Maxwell

3. Practice Patience
The leaders I know tend to be impatient. They look ahead, think ahead, and want to move ahead. And that can be good. Being one step ahead makes you a leader. However, that can also be bad, Being fifty steps ahead could make you a martyr.

Few worthwhile things in life come quickly. There is no such thing as instant greatness or instant maturity. We are used to instant oatmeal, instant coffee, and microwave popcorn. But becoming a leader doesn’t happen overnight. Microwave leaders don’t have any staying power. Leadership is more of a Crock-pot proposition. It takes time, but the end product is worth the wait.

Leaders need to remember that the point of leading is not to cross the finish line first. It’s to take people across the finish line with you. For that reason, leaders must deliberately slow their pace, stay connected to their people, enlist others to help fulfill the vision, and keep people going. You can’t do that if you are running too far ahead of your people.

4. Seek Accountability
People who lead themselves well know a secret; they can’t trust themselves. Good leaders know that power can be seductive, and they understand their own fallibility. To be a leader and deny this is to put yourself in danger.

Over the years, I’ve read about many leaders who failed ethically in their leadership. Can you guess what they had in common? They all thought it could never happen to them. There was a false sense of security. They thought they were incapable of running their lives and the lives of others.

Learning that was very sobering to me, because I shared the same attitude. I thought I was above such possibilities, and that scared me. At that moment, I made two decisions: First, I will not trust myself. Second, I will become accountable to someone other than myself. I believe those decisions have helped to keep me on track and able to lead myself and others.

Lack of accountability in our personal life will certainly lead to problems in our public life. We saw that time and time again with high-profile CEOs a few years ago. A Chinese proverb says, “When you see a good man, think of emulating him; when you see a bad man, examine your heart.”

Many people feel that accountability is a willingness to explain your actions. I believe that effective accountability begins way before we take action. It starts with getting advice from others. For leaders especially, this often develops in stages:

We don’t want advice. > We don’t object to advice. > We welcome advice. > We actively seek advice. > We often follow the advice given to us.

The willingness to seek and accept advice is a great indicator of accountability. … If you seek it early—before you take action—you will be less likely to get off track. Most wrong actions come about because people are not being held accountable early enough.
(John C. Maxwell, Leadership Gold, pp. 14-16)

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