Lead Yourself Before Leading Others 

by | May 10, 2023 | Leadership

If you’re entering the journey of entrepreneurship, being a leader is a part of the job, whether you’re ready for it or not. But what if you’ve never been a “leader” before? One way to move forward with confidence is to lead yourself before leading others. 

We’ve broken this down into three areas of growth as you begin leading yourself: personal development, skill development, and work habits. 

Let’s dive in! 

Personal Development 

A notebook that reads, “Let’s do this,” lays on a desk with a pencil and green cup by it. A person is also writing note on a small round sticky notepad.

Leadership begins with personal development. But what is that exactly? We like the way BetterUp™ defines personal development: “Personal development is looking inward and focusing on ways to better yourself. Personal development increases your self-awareness, your self-esteem, increases your skills, and fulfills your aspirations.” 

“Bettering yourself” feels vague, so we’ll help you out with three ways to set yourself up for success in your personal development journey. 

Have a positive mindset. 

Personal development starts with having a positive and growth mindset. You must believe that you have what it takes to grow into the person that can achieve your wildest dreams.  

Here are simple ideas on how to develop a positive mindset: 

  • Read personal development books that focus on mindset. Failing Forward by John Maxwell™ is a great start. 
  • Listen to uplifting podcasts or audio books. 
  • Practice meditation and mindfulness. 
  • Repeat daily affirmations. 
  • Start a gratitude journal. 
  • Focus on your strengths. 

Want more ideas? Check out this blog post on how staying positive isn’t just about smiling more often

When developing this optimistic view of yourself and life, it’s important to create an uplifting environment to support your journey. 

Step outside of your comfort zone. 

A person’s feet are standing on a wooden bridge above rushing water below.

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” – John Maxwell

We’re here to tell you that in order to lead yourself, you’ll need to get uncomfortable. You’ll need to stretch, grow, and journey down an unknown path. Being a leader means going first, which inevitably will cause you to take action that scares you. 

Consider it a measure of progress when you find yourself pushing past your limits and doing things you’ve never done before! 

Be aware of your environment and input. 

You have more control over your environment than you might think. Take the time and effort to reflect on your surroundings and decide what needs to change. This includes your physical environment, mental input, and even people. 

Here are a few ways to create a positive environment for your mind and body: 

  • Create a dream board. 
  • Write down your goals and visions in a journal. 
  • Limit your time and space with negative people. 
  • Be aware of consuming negative news. 
  • Surround yourself with uplifting people who cheer you on. 

Check out this blog for even more ways to establish your growth environment.

Skill up 

A neon sign reads, “Level Up.”

Personal development will get you moving in the right direction, but it’s also necessary to establish the appropriate skills to be successful. Follow in the footsteps of successful leaders that you look up to. What are they doing? What books are they reading? How do they organize their time?  

Here are ideas of skills to focus on:  

  • Organizational skills (time management, planning, time blocking, etc.) 
  • Presentation and sales skills 
  • Communication and people skills 
  • Listening skills  
  • Leadership skills 
  • Other business skills such as marketing, analyzing, and financial management 

Learn and practice. Learn and practice. And then do it over again until you master your new skill. The work you’ve done to create a positive attitude will come in handy here because you will fail and have setbacks. But the more you move forward, the more confident you will become in your skills. 

Develop Healthy Work Habits 

A blank spiral notebook lays on a wooden bench with a pencil and paper coffee cup next to it.

After leveling up in skill, it’s time to develop strong work habits. Without discipline, your attitude and skill won’t get very far. We’ve focused on three work habits to develop in order to lead yourself to success.  

Practice delayed gratification. 

Delayed gratification is saying “no” to impulses that result in an immediate reward to build something greater for your future. This work habit is a key discipline to develop to be successful professionally and personally.  

The easiest way to think about this is with a financial example. Saying “no” to small impulse purchases will allow you to save up for a down payment on a home or add to your retirement savings down the road. 

In professional terms, this may mean skipping out on Netflix™ in order to make new networking connections or read a personal development book. 

Set goals and plan to win. 

A laptop sits open on a wooden desk with the word “Goals” typed on it. A leather notebook and plant sit near the laptop.

Start with the end in mind. Lead yourself by setting your short-term goals based on your long-term goals. Everything you’ve done up to this point (personal development and leveling up your skillset) will set you up for success along this journey.  

You’ve likely heard of SMART goals, but if you need a reminder, check out this blog post on “How to Write SMART Goals.” It will help you to get going! 

Take action despite how you feel. 

And here we are at the last tip. Do the work even when you don’t feel like it. This is where your positive outlook and growth mindset come into play. Establish a winning attitude and commit to achieving your goals … no matter what. 

You can achieve your dreams! 

Lead Yourself, and Others Will Follow 

It’s true. People are watching. When you lead yourself first, leading others becomes a seamless transition.  

Your actions create a ripple effect that will change many lives. You’ll be a difference maker—impacting the world for the better—before you know it.