Self-leadership: Building a Leadership Foundation


Leadership Under Construction

Although many would agree that leadership starts with leading yourself well, they want to know, “What are the practical steps I can take to improve my self-leadership?” I would suggest the first step involve a self-evaluation and personal inventory. Achieving clarity on the following questions can help build that solid foundation from which to grow self-leadership:


  1. What do I stand for?
  2. What do I value?
  3. What am I good at and what am I not?
  4. Am I following my passion?
  5. Is my personal vision clear?
  6. Am I excited in what I do and whom I do it with?
  7. Am I making decisions that honor everyone?

Bill Hybels (2009) mentions that great leaders embody several key traits. After addressing the “what and how” questions, a deeper dive into personal characteristics will continue that self-leadership inventory.  On a continuum, leaders should ask themselves which traits they hold strongly and which ones they want to develop further?

  1. Integrity
  2. Optimism
  3. Decisiveness
  4. Courage
  5. Wisdom
  6. Emotional authenticity
  7. Commitment to collaboration

The self-evaluation goal is to become self-full, which is to attend to oneself in a way that allows one to lead self and others well.  At times, leaders can extend themselves so far and for so long that they exhaust themselves and are then not able to give others their best.  Therefore, leaders should ask themselves, “Where will I focus my attention and where will I not?” Leaders cannot be all things to all people and should understand their limits. Leaders benefit by scheduling downtime to work on self-leadership and keep themselves energized.


Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at



Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness

leadership selfawarenessMany clients want to know how they can become better leaders.  My typical response is to answer this question with a question: “Where would you start?”  Clients respond with “improve my communication skills,” “have a clear vision,” “give better direction,” and “build stronger relationships.”  No doubt all of these answers have elements that can contribute toward improved leadership.  Yet, these answers leave people still wondering, “How do I really start the process?”

I propose that a serious effort to grow leadership capacity starts with an honest self-assessment.  Until a client understands who he* is and how he shows up in the world, he will be challenged to sustain leadership growth. People should be aware of where they are, where they want to stand, and how large of a gap exists between the two.  A deep-dive into self-awareness allows one to determine how he presents himself to others, which reflects a combination of worldview, skills/competencies, knowledge, attitudes, and appearance/behaviors.  Clients need to appreciate how each dimension works for and against their ability to influence, so they can choose to change in ways that drives toward increased leadership.

As an example, a sales person struggles with securing new clients and business growth.  One of my priorities as a leadership coach is to help him understand his worldview, which reflects how he believes the world works or should work.  Where does he land on the continuum of “fate plays a major role in my life” versus “I control my destiny”?  If the client tends more toward fate, he may stop pursuing a relationship with a prospective client sooner than a salesperson who believes he controls his destiny.  The sales person, who believes he strongly influences his outcome, may not as readily accept defeat and find other creative strategies to bring on the customer.  Another worldview perspective to consider is “people must earn my trust” versus “people are inherently trustworthy”?  How might a sales person, who embraces either extreme, be perceived by a potential customer?  Answers to these and other worldview questions will likely determine how a sales person engages in the sales process and with his customers.

Worldview is only one dimension that influences leadership growth.  I encourage clients to take a deep dive self-assessment in the other dimensions. Once a client has established a personal baseline and defined his leadership goals, he can work through the change process.  Focusing on purposeful change to improve leadership also helps to build learning agility, which is an important skill to be competitive in today’s global market.

*[”he” or “his” as personal pronouns are also intended to reflect “she” and “her”]

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Where Does Leadership Start?

Leadership LeadAlthough everyone has their own perspective on what leadership entails and the key characteristics embodied by leaders, few would disagree that leadership involves the ability to influence people. Many people struggle with how to increase their leadership capacity within their families, work, and communities. I propose that the first step in expanding your leadership capacity is learning to lead yourself better. What are your emotional intelligence, attitudes, and behaviors reflecting into the world? How are you preparing and working on yourself to be a better leader, so you have greater influence with your skills, competencies, creativity, and knowledge? Although self-reflection might be the start in developing self-awareness, an objective self-evaluation may prove difficult. You may receive more useful feedback, when you ask trusted friends and colleagues. Although family can be a source of leadership feedback, the closer the emotional connection, typically the more biased the feedback. The following general questions are examples that should solicit concrete feedback for self-reflection.

  • Would you provide an example where you believed I could have had more influence? What could I have done more or less of that would have affected a better outcome?
  • What changes should I consider in my general behaviors to achieve greater influence? Would you provide an example where this change might have led to a different outcome?
  • When you observe me leading at my best, what am I doing or not doing?

Some people only provide congratulatory remarks and refrain from feedback that could result in “shooting the messenger.” Other people will be caught off guard when you ask such questions and may need time to process and think of specific examples. In this case, schedule a second meeting to receive that feedback. I find if you appear sincere in wanting the feedback for self-improvement, people are likely to provide an honest evaluation.

144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  Email: