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Having the ability to lead yourself independently and authentically (personal leadership) regardless of your career or position in a company is an essential quality that each emerging Business Professional should develop in order to become an effective team leader. To lead yourself you need to know yourself, accept yourself and be yourself. Leaders who develop self-awareness have a more positive self-image,find it easier to accept themselves and be their own independent person, authentic in every regard. There are valuable resources that you can use to assist you in developing personal leadership: Books, Autobiographies, Movies, Courses, DVD’s, CD’s, Coaching, Mentoring and Exercises.

The 1st step of Personal Leadership is to KNOW yourself:

This requires self-awareness of your personality, strengths, shadows, values, motives, EQ, abilities. Let’s start with a small exercise – take a moment, relax and clear your thoughts. Now I want you to focus on yourself for a few minutes by answering the question:”Who am I truly?” Quite a tough question to answer in a few minutes! It is important to remember that getting to know yourself is like any relationship that you build: it requires time with yourself, patience, deep reflection, frustration, grace, asking questions and most importantly the right attitude. Knowing yourself is an essential part of having a realistic self-image and identity, believing in yourself and in your actions. As a team leader,self-awareness forms an essential part in developing a leadership style that works well for you and is consistent with who you are.

The 2nd step of Personal Leadership is to ACCEPT yourself:

Being true to the person you were created to be requires that you love yourself for who you are – a unique created individual with a purpose. I too still struggle in being comfortable with my weaknesses and shadow side – my tendency to be too passionate that I talk to fast and complete people’s sentences, my overwhelming strong style that sometimes intimidate others, my background and upbringing, being critical, becoming too involved. Over the last couple of years I have learned from people like Carly Fiorina (former CEO of HP) and Bill George (former chairman and CEO of Medtronic), from interactions with my husband, friends and business acquaintances and in my work with the emerging Business Professional that we all feel at some point in life that we have to be perfect and in attempting to cover things up, we are only fooling ourselves. Accepting yourself is an essential part of appreciating your own uniqueness and being graceful with who you are. As a team leader accepting yourself forms an essential part in accepting the diversity and uniqueness of others and using this diversity to the advantage of the goals and purpose of the team.

The 3rd step of Personal Leadership is to BE yourself:

Being your true self requires that you know and live out your purpose and passions in life with excellence! Who you are makes a difference. The most important message you can share is yourself. Most people search for years to find their purpose because they conform to the stereotype leaders of society, normative styles of leadership and become “plain vanilla” leaders without creativity, excellence and passion. Being yourself is an essential part to live with authenticity, integrity and courage. As a team leader being yourself will build trust and relationship with your team, when you help them grow they will help you grow.

As a Business Leader I want to challenge you to start leading yourself independently and authentically NOW. Do not wait for someone in a leadership or mentoring role to take action in developing your skills, strengths and abilities. Take responsibility and be an inspiring, optimistic, enthusiastic young professional that leads yourself out of negativity and pessimism. Great leaders know that leadership success starts with personal leadership that should be seen a process and not a destination – you develop as a leader continuously throughout your life. It takes hard work, commitment, self-discipline, practice and a willingness to grow.

Author & Contributor: Adel Du Plessis CA(SA) – (LinkedIn Bio – https://www.linkedin.com/in/adel-du-plessis-87961b17/)

George, B (2004). The Journey to Authenticity. In Leader to Leader (Vol 31) USA: Leader to Leader.
Fiorina, C (2007). Tough Choices.A Memoir. UK: Nicholas Brealy Publishing.
Gordon, J (2008). 10 Thoughts about leadership. www.jongordon.com

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