The Paradox of Self-Leadership: The Less Self-Leadership People Show, the More Leadership They Need.19 June 2023
In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, the concept of leadership has taken on a broader meaning. While traditional leadership was often associated with leading others, a growing emphasis is now being placed on self-leadership. Self-leadership refers to the ability to take charge of one’s own actions, decisions, and outcomes. However, there exists a paradoxical relationship between self-leadership and the need for external leadership. It is my belief that the less self-leadership individuals demonstrate, the more they rely on external leaders to guide them.
- Lack of Initiative: Individuals who fail to embrace self-leadership often exhibit a lack of initiative. They wait for others to tell them what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. This lack of proactivity and independence can be detrimental not only to their own personal growth (what a shame!) but also to the effectiveness of their teams or organizations. When individuals rely solely on external leadership, it creates a dependency that stifles innovation and impedes progress.
- Limited Accountability: Self-leadership involves taking responsibility for one’s own actions and being accountable for the outcomes. However, individuals who lack self-leadership often shift the blame onto others or external circumstances when faced with challenges or failures. This absence of personal accountability not only hinders individual development but also undermines the overall culture of responsibility within a team or organization. In such cases, the need for external leaders to step in and enforce accountability becomes crucial.
- Passive Followership: Passive followership is a natural consequence of limited self-leadership. Individuals who do not actively lead themselves tend to passively follow the directives of others without questioning or critically evaluating them. This blind adherence can result in groupthink (a phenomenon that occurs when a group of individuals reaches a consensus without critical reasoning or evaluation of the consequences or alternatives), lack of diversity in ideas, and ultimately, suboptimal decision-making. Effective leaders encourage active engagement and diverse perspectives, but the less self-leadership people exhibit, the more they rely on leaders to provide strategy, guidance, direction and last but not least kpi’s.
- Stagnation and Dependence: Without self-leadership, individuals are more prone to stagnation and dependence on external leaders. They become comfortable within their comfort zones, resisting change and growth. Consequently, the need for external leaders to intervene and inspire individuals to push beyond their boundaries becomes essential. In such cases, external leaders are required to ignite the spark of self-leadership within individuals, empowering them to take ownership of their personal and professional development.
While self-leadership is vital for personal growth and success, it is also important to recognize that not everyone possesses the necessary skills and mindset to lead themselves effectively. The less self-leadership individuals demonstrate, the more they rely on external leaders for guidance, motivation, and direction. This creates a paradox where individuals who lack self-leadership skills require strong external leadership to help unlock their potential. Therefore, it becomes imperative for leaders to not only lead others but also cultivate and foster self-leadership within their teams, empowering individuals to take charge of their own lives and contribute to the collective success.
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