The ‘self’ in leadership – part 1

Interesting word – ‘leader’. Many believe that a leader is someone who has direct reports; someone who manages or supervises others. In our healthcare training, people are often surprised that you don’t have to be a manager or supervisor to demonstrate leadership; to be a leader.

A leader is someone who creates followers; people who aspire to be like that person or to achieve with them; sharing their vision.

Your actions – words and behaviours – help others decide if you are someone they consider a leader. This decision is not always made consciously – it can be a non-conscious judgement that leads them to respect and trust you (or not).

This can occur quickly, or build over time. They may never consciously say “I want to be led by that person”, yet they may be comfortable being influenced by you; they may be keen to seek out your opinions; they may choose to be a part of your projects.

This is the ‘self’ of leadership – what you bring to the workplace that sets you apart from others, and what behaviours you consistently demonstrate. It is how you interact with and treat others, how you go about achieving results and how you handle set backs.

We purposefully use the word ‘how’ here. The ‘what’ you deliver is very important to leadership; equally as important is the ‘how’ you go about delivering results and collaborating with others.

What you do is important. How you do it is a game changer.

If for instance, you achieve targets, yet along the way you undermine others, are rude to customers, throw tantrums in your boss’ office and break policies, then you are not showing good self-leadership.

On the other hand, if you deliver results and along the way support colleagues, respect clients, uphold policies and professionally discuss issues with your boss, then you likely are demonstrating good self-leadership.

So how do you know whether you are demonstrating positive leadership behaviours?

As a starting point, consider the questions below.

  • Do you find that people are keen to work with you, or seek out your advice?
  • Do people tend to smile when they greet you?
  • Do others freely share ideas and thoughts with you?
  • Are you often asked to participate in important projects?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions about how others engage with you, then it is likely that you are demonstrating positive leadership behaviours.

Here are some more questions to consider:

  • In conversation, do you pause often and allow others to speak?
  • Do you genuinely consider others’ perspective, even if it differs to your opinion?
  • Do you tend to use more positive and constructive words than negative?
  • Are you genuinely interested in what others have to say?


If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions about your conversations with others, then it is likely you are demonstrating positive leadership behaviours.

  • Do you offer possible solutions when you raise issues or concerns?
  • Do you take ownership when you could have done things better?
  • As much as possible, do you avoid blaming others when things go wrong?
  • If you don’t like someone, do you still try to interact professionally and positively with them?


If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions about handling problems and challenges, then it is likely you are demonstrating positive leadership behaviours.

Reflect on your words and behaviours. Take action if you are not as proud as you could be.

Reflecting on your interactions with others, your language, and how you deal with issues is a great way to assess your leadership qualities.

If you feel that you could do better, or that your relationships at work aren’t as productive or positive as you’d like – the good news is that you can make changes.

You have a choice.

Choose one area or relationship where you are not as proud as you’d like to be of yourself; determine what you’d like it to be/look like; commit to one action in the next week to work towards making it better. Demonstrate good leadership and start to take positive action!

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