Inner Leadership: Unleashing The True Leader Within
Feb 26, 2021
There are people who are born with traits that help them to become great leaders. Usually, an outgoing personality can help people to become comfortable in the presence of others and allow them to take charge. It is also important to note that many leadership skills can be developed over time.
But most of the leadership training sought today is about expanding the skills. Only a few are able to recognize the key ingredient of leadership — the inner self.
Inner Leadership is important because it enables clarity about what we need to do in all the areas of our lives to be successful. Be it business, management, workspace/team, or society. It is about being true to yourself and doing what you need to do because it is right for you. It doesn’t matter to the Inner Leader whether they have followers or not – their own inner vision is what counts for them. It’s about honoring and respecting yourself without the arrogance of certainty. And if the Inner Leader truly honors and values him or herself, then they will honor and value others as well.
Characteristics of Inner Leadership
This is the first and important quality of inner leadership. It can be equated with integrity concerning your relationships with the principles, values, and beliefs that are important to you personally.
Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having unshakable moral principles, situated at the intersection of consistent actions and strong values. In other words, it’s a quality of people, especially leaders, who do the right thing at all times, even when no one is looking, and especially when it is difficult to do so.
Moreover, having establishing integrity in oneself builds credibility, creates a gateway for trust and inspiration, and committing to success.
This about the mind's predisposition to certain ideas, values, people, systems, institutions. Besides, a leader's responsibility is to create a learning environment through demonstrating an attitude toward innovation and change, and by communicating beliefs in the potential and worth of your team members.
Additionally, a positive or negative attitude depends on a leader's self-concept. Self-concept refers to the collection of attitudes we have about ourselves and includes the element of self-esteem, whether a person generally has positive or negative feelings about himself/herself. A person with a positive self-concept has high self-esteem, while a person with a negative self-concept has low self-esteem. Leaders with positive self-concepts are more effective in all situations. Leaders with negative self-concept, who are insecure and have low self-esteem, often unconsciously create environments that limit people’s growth and development.
This refers to the mental picture of the future, and your idea of what the future can hold, but has not yet happened. Vision builds the desire of a leader to grow and improve.
It is similarly important because it shows us where we want to go, provides motivation and inspires us to keep on going, helps to keep us moving forward and move through obstacles, provides focus, and gives us meaning and purpose in what we do.
As a leader, having a vision will provide you with the focus needed to accomplish your goals, and will help you work on what is important to achieve the end results and not get caught up in the mundane stuff.
A leader's actions express priorities. Leaders of teams within organizations prioritize projects and tasks for their team members. People who are not leaders of others still lead themselves in this critical piece of personal success. Without the ability to prioritize, you'll flail through life, jumping from one activity to the next, without a satisfactory focus on anything.
To improve your ability to set sound priorities, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I know how much time is available?
- Do I allow myself to be distracted or avoid doing what ought to be done?
- Do I know what makes my organization tick (and tock)?
- Do I know the real limits of my organization?
How To Unleash The Inner Leader
Step 1: Look Inside Yourself
To lead other people and make them listen to you, you need to learn to lead yourself and be able to hear yourself first. It can be a lot of work, but it is the key step. The ability to lead yourself will allow you to become a leader for others, and can have clarity on this by considering the following questions:
Why do I want to be a leader?
What will the development of leadership potential bring?
How do I need to act and think?
When you start to understand yourself, learn to listen to yourself, and put everything on the shelves, then you can start to act. Thus, you begin to understand what leadership means to you.
Your answers to the above questions will change as you return to it as often as possible, which will mean that you are starting to work hard to better yourself. These responses will also guide you towards unlocking your inner leader.
Step 2: Acknowledge Your Authenticity
Most people think that they are not that different from other people but, in fact, this is not at all the case.
List your strengths and unique abilities. Each leader knows his or her strengths, and each person has them. Most people think that it’s necessary to work on weaknesses, taking your strengths for granted. But to awaken leadership qualities you need to start by working out the strengths.
This does not also mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to weaknesses at all. You should as well work on fixing the critical ones too. But keeping the focus on your strengths will help you to boost your self-esteem and awaken your inner leadership potential.
Step 3: Admit Your Mistakes
Admitting when you’re wrong also shows you’re aware of, and thus in a position to learn from, your mistakes. This can build further confidence in your leadership. Owning your mistakes provides an important sense of safety as a leader, and puts more validity behind your word.
Yet so often in leadership, inexperienced or poor managers believe that admitting they were wrong shows weakness or ineptness. The danger of that belief, especially when it is held by people in positions of power or authority, is that it backs a leader into defending their poor choices, even when they themselves may have come to recognize they were wrong.
True leaders recognize the value of admitting mistakes as something to be learned from and an opportunity to reconnect with team members and/or with team values.
Step 4: Be Curious
Curiosity in leadership helps to move us away from our biases. It helps to provide context and understanding and builds connection and trust.
This also establishes a learner mindset questions assumptions instead of defending them. A learner mindset refers to a responsive and reflective approach to things, instead of reactive and defensive.
Here's how you can practice curiosity:
- Ask more curious questions (non-judgmental and non-faultfinding) that seek to explore possibilities.
- Have more conversation by sharing your thoughts and seek to understand other perspectives.
- Make more connections through eliciting new ideas, as well as generate enthusiasm and energy around shared goals and opportunities.
- Temper curiosity with wisdom and discernment using Emotional Intelligence, and observe what’s going on with others or what’s happening in a room before asking a curious question.
Step 5: Evolve Your Inner Leader
Evolving the inner leader doesn't mean changing all your being. Rather it is about strengthening your unique identity as a leader as you learn more about yourself, what you believe in, and want to achieve.
Also, transformation is always rooted in a leader’s intention. Good leaders will actively immerse themselves in the process of transformation, not just the goal. The gradual pace of implementing substantial changes can be particularly challenging, where there can be a sense of urgency and a tendency to focus on the goals, anticipating results rather than being active in the process.
Staying true to yourself and your principles is an essential skill of every leader. Most likely, in the early stages of working on your inner leader enhancement, you begin to follow the example of some famous leaders and copy their demeanor. Hence, the best thing is to reveal your strong sides and be authentic.
Now you know what you need to do to become a leader for yourself and for other people. The main thing to remember is that leadership is what you make of it. When you learn to control yourself, understand your actions, improve your character, then you begin to develop as a leader further.