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You desire to be the best leader you can be so you can maximize your influence and success. It’s in every leader’s heart to do this. The reality, though, is that there is a gap between who you want to be and who you are. This gap shines a light on the aspects of your character that are deficient. Your need, therefore, is to grow in these areas.
Your Desire + Your Reality = Your Need
While your organization may participate in your development, it can only do so much. You must learn how to lead yourself well. The gravitational pull is away from self-leadership. And leaders who don’t lead themselves don’t grow. You must be intentional about your development. And you must pace your development because it is a lifelong process.
David was a messy leader. He wanted to be a great leader, but like most of us, there was a gap between who he wanted to be and who he actually was. Despite his messiness, David led himself and others well. Psalm 78:72 (NIV) says,
“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”
Your self-leadership plan will look different over the years depending upon your role, the setting, and your stage of life. To lead yourself well, though, integrity and skills should always be an emphasis within your plan.
As you consider your integrity, there are a number of things you can do to continually grow in this area:
Check your self-awareness. Find the tools to help you discover who you are and what kind of leader you are.
Check your resolve. Determine now to lead no matter what challenges confront you.
Check your relationships. Do you value people? To the best of your ability, are you living at peace with others?
Check your ego. All leaders are born selfish. Know that your ego is always a danger.
Check your accountability. Do you welcome accountability from others? Invite others into your life.
In addition to your integrity, you also need to be constantly growing in your skills. To grow in this area, here are some suggestions:
Never stop learning. Read. Attend trainings and conferences. Read some more.
Set goals. Determine where you want to go.
Be prepared. Know how you will respond to specific challenges before they happen. What would you say if…? What would you do if…?
Sharpen your relationship skills. Become a good listener. Help others become better. Develop wise boundaries.
Invite feedback from those who observe your leadership. Ask, “How do you think it went?” and “What can I do better?”
An integrity failure or a skills failure can be disastrous for a leader. The leader with high integrity but lacking in skills can mean well and be a great person but a bad leader. The leader with strong skills but no integrity can be very talented and lead others but does it for personal gain. A leader needs to have strong integrity and skills. And a leader needs to know how to lead themselves well in both of these areas.