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Why personal development should be a top priority for every ambitious leader

In many of my blogs I have mentioned that there is an important relationship between leadership and personal development. From my perspective as a leadership coach, leading others is deeply connected to leading yourself. I even believe that only after someone gains a certain level of personal leadership, that person is qualified and able to lead others.

In this article I want to explain that a bit further, and also add another dimension: how your personal development can – in return – benefit from leading others.

The beginning & ending of leadership

Leadership begins and ends with the self. Being a leader is not a role you play, it is how and who you are. This means automatically that in leading others, you bring in your personality, your own story, your experiences etc etc.

And that definitely doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It does require however, that the leader involved is capable of leading her self.

Personal leadership is hugely important for being effective as a leader. I could even say that it is vital to leading others. Only someone who is capable of managing their own stress, worry, ego, insecurity, pride, in short: fear, is capable of being completely open to seeing, sensing, feeling what his people need to grow.

Those are the leaders that will co-create by inviting, challenging and inspiring their team.

And that is exactly what is needed in large organisations, where most employees are highly educated, curious and opinionated, and in case of the Millennial group, are out to work in companies and with people that are purpose driven.

Wholeness as a leadership trait

A word that I believe sums up how leaders should be in this age, is ‘Whole’. Great leaders are people who are ruled by faith and confidence. Who are free of the fear of not being good enough, of not being appreciated, seen or valued. Who are certain of their worth for the company and the world, because they see how their leadership creates space for their team members to grow into their wholeness, or sovereignty.

I have seen and experienced the huge impact a leader has on their team. A great leader creates a team of people who are constantly moving closer to their absolute best.

A great leader also embraces the fact that he’s not the best at everything. No, maybe she’s not even the best at anything related directly to the business. But definitely he is the best at seeing what his people need to grow.

For most of us, it requires quite some soul searching to get to that point.

Personal Development School

The thing with leadership, and I am speaking from my own experience, is that leadership will challenge you exactly where you are NOT yet whole. Leadership – like parenting – brings out the best and the worst in us. You could to even look at leadership as a ‘personal leadership seminar’ in itself.

Approached from that perspective, being in a position to lead others can be a beautiful tool for personal transformation.

It can even be a point in your personal development where you deal with some tough aspects of your personality, or where you take specific steps in your journey towards sovereignty.

Your personal challenges will be presented on a golden platter. And if seen for what it is – Personal Leadership School – leading others can be a swift way to become very clear on where you are holding fear and un-fulfilment ànd learning how to deal with these.

Of course, many people in leadership positions don’t do that. They struggle and deny what is truly being asked of them. They fail horribly: both the leadership in itself, as the actual challenge they face: to grasp the opportunity to learn what is there for them to learn on a personal level.

Think, for example, of a leader who – on a personal level – is a pleaser, always finding ways to stay friendly with everyone. In their leadership, they will be challenged in that on a very fundamental level. Leading automatically implies having to make tough calls, telling people they aren’t doing the best job etc. If you have to do that, while also wanting – needing – to be liked makes your job as a leader super-tough.

The relation between leadership and personal development

On one side, leadership is a passing through on your way to becoming truly whole as a person. Leadership will confront you with the challenges you, as a person, face.

On the other side, you becoming whole as a person highly adds to your leadership.

The inner truth that comes with knowing your self on a deep level, can, through leadership, be extended outwards into serving others to become whole in return, and bring into the world the best that thèy have to offer.

Leading your self is the foundation onto which leading others can flourish. People who developed the capacity to lead themselves through personal development, growth and some struggle, who know who they are and what they are here to do, who know how to say no and how to say yes lay an undeniable groundwork to becoming a worthy leader of others.

So now I am curious…

Do you value time spend on personal development as a direct contribution to becoming a better leader?

Do you recognise the challenges you face as part of your personal development path?

I would love to hear from you! Please share your comments below!

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