Self-Leadership: Paving the Way for Inspiring Leadership

Self-Leadership: Paving the Way for Inspiring Leadership

Self-leadership is the ability to lead and influence yourself, take initiative, make decisions, and guide yourself towards your personal and professional goals by clearly understanding your values, strengths and objectives. Think of self-leadership as being the CEO of your own life - guiding yourself towards achieving your personal mission and vision.

By cultivating greater self-awareness, increasing self-confidence and growing self-belief we gain the ability to chart a clear path for our life and progress along it with clarity and awareness, actively shaping a life driven by purpose and intention. 

Self-Leadership is for Everyone

Just as the development of self-leadership has a profound positive impact on the experiences and success of entrepreneurs, managers, leaders and executives - so it also applies to every individual who has a desire to achieve the things in life that are important to them.

Self-leadership involves developing in four main areas:


  • Knowing our core values and how they guide our approach and responses to life events.
  • Understanding our strengths and talents, and how they motivate and energise us.
  • Identifying what inspires and motivates us.


  • Accepting ourselves for who we are and focusing on our positive attributes.
  • An honest recognition of what may not be going as well as we’d like and taking responsibility for what we want to change.
  • Accepting we are all “flawsome” i.e., we all have flaws and we are all awesome!


  • Proactively managing time and resources (our own time and energy is a major part of this).
  • Practicing self-discipline to ensure the right things are prioritised.
  • Developing routines and habits that support mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.


  • Developing a mindset that promotes ongoing learning and achievement.
  • Learning from mistakes and drawing on the courage to step up to new challenges.
  • Being curious about your knowledge gaps and learning new ways to approach challenges.

Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness Through Self-Leadership

As a leader becomes more practiced at leading themselves, they are empowered to effectively inspire and influence others in authentic and purposeful ways.

Here are some ways self-leadership relates to leading others:

  • Role modelling – as a leader demonstrates strong self-leadership practices they serve as positive role models for their team.
  • Communication – a leader who has a high level of self-awareness can communicate authentically, express their thoughts and feelings clearly and empathise with others.
  • Decision-making – aligning with values and goals supports sound decision-making which considers various perspectives.
  • Resilience – self-leadership equips a leader with the emotional intelligence to cope with challenges and setbacks with composure and inspire confidence in their team.

Centredness is the Key to Self-Leadership

One of the most essential strengths of self-leadership is that of Centredness[1]. This is also commonly referred to as mindfulness – a state of being fully present, curious and non-judging towards our thoughts, feelings and what we are experiencing within our surroundings and environment. It is a state of inner balance and calm.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

It is this centredness that enables a leader the mental space to consciously respond, as opposed to automatically reacting to events and others. For example, being centred allows a leader to remain calm when under pressure or when in a stressful situation by listening with intention and attention to the needs of others, asking questions to understand the situation clearly, and appreciating the impact on those involved.

When leaders manage themselves in a way that demonstrates a strong sense of presence, they are practicing self-discipline and exhibiting positive and proactive behaviours that pave the way for others to follow.

Ways to Cultivate Centredness:

  • Informal mindfulness – such as mindful walking and noticing in the moment things that make you feel good.

  • Breathing exercises – can help regulate the nervous system and reduce stress.

  • Self-care practices – such as eating nourishing food and getting enough sleep.

  • Journalling or Expressive Writing – to explore thoughts, emotions and experiences for insight and develop self-awareness and clarity.

  • Setting boundaries – can help protect one’s energy and maintain a sense of having control over your circumstances and decisions.

  • Connection and support – Connecting with supportive friends, family members, or a coach can provide emotional validation, perspective, and help you navigate challenges and cultivate resilience.


As an experienced ICF credentialed leadership coach I help people develop their leadership style, increase presence, build healthy and productive relationships, lead with focus and intention, and become more skilful at bringing out the best in themselves and others.

If your goal is to realise and fulfil your potential so you can achieve what is important to you and effectively lead and relate meaningfully with others, get in touch with Anna at


[1] [1] Bain & Company – The Science of Centeredness, by Mark Horwitch and Meredith Whipple Callahan

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