Know Yourself To Lead Yourself

“The toughest person to lead is always yourself.” – John C. Maxwell
“You never graduate from the school of self-awareness.” – Steve Cochram

Know Yourself to Lead Yourself

These two concepts come together in a tool called “Know Yourself Lead Yourself.” I find it to be the foundation of so much of our work in leadership development programs to help people lead better and from a healthy place in their lives.

Know Yourself to Lead Yourself

Notice about the tool is that it is an infinity symbol. This helps us to remember that our work in self-awareness is never done.
We will continue to learn about ourselves, who we are and how we think and behave for the rest of our lives. We are constantly changing, learning and adapting. Therefore, we will continue to learn about who we are becoming.
Notice are the words around the outside of the infinity loop. These are sequential items that can help you diagnose yourself and the root of your current reality. You can start at either of two places.


First, start with your Tendencies. Tendencies can come from nature – you were born with them and they are hard-wired into your personality or talents. Or Tendencies could arise from nurture – your upbringing taught you or shaped you to think a certain way or to act or react a certain way. It was what you saw modeled in your parents or other influential adults in your life when you were growing up.
Our tendencies lead us to take Action based on those tendencies. Those actions have Consequences with the people around us who react to our behaviors. That leads to the Reality that in which we find ourselves.


Second, you could start looking at your Reality. You may find something about your current reality you don’t like. For instance, perhaps people are leaving you out of conversations. If you notice that you are working in a reality that you don’t like, it is time to start looking at the actions you have been taking with your team. Then think back to what Tendency of yours has been leading you to take the action you have been taking.
Once you begin to break the patterns of behavior around one negative tendency, identify another one on which you can work. Pay attention to those moments when you start to notice the tendency to arise. As soon as you do, intentionally choose a different and more positive action. Begin to notice the responses of the people with whom you are interacting. Take note of how your situation is changing and how people treat you. This is the hard work of leadership development for yourself.
You could begin to keep a tendency log. This is a way to go back occasionally and look at the list so that you are aware of tendencies that could easily creep back into your life. You could also use this list to check your progress – to see how you are now reacting to those tendencies and how much you are being intentional to overcome them.

Teach the Tool to Your Team

Last, you can use this tool with the people that you lead or work with. You could walk them through it and explain it, then you could ask them to identify one tendency that they know of that they could work on. The other way you can use it is to guide a tough conversation about a behavior that you believe needs to change in the person you lead. You could start by saying you’ve seen a certain behavior from them recently, and you think it is an area of growth and development for them. You could then ask them what tendency that have that might be leading to that action or behavior. This can create coaching moments for yourself with those you lead, and can also help lead your team to continue on their own journey of self-awareness and leadership development.
Remember, the better you know yourself, the more you can take intentional steps to lead yourself better. That, in turn, can help you lead your team in new and better ways. Making these new choices to lead yourself better will help you become a healthier leader, and it will help increase your level of self-command. Start first with yourself, and then become the leader that others want to follow.
Want to watch a video that explains the tool? Check it out here: Know Yourself to Lead Yourself.
If you want to get prepared for your leadership climb, check out our Altitude Training program. There are self-guided and coaching groups available to fit your goals.

Micah Ray

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