Leaders come in different sizes, shapes, types, personalities, races and temperaments. Leadership is not about mindlessly copying the tactics, mannerisms, behaviours and actions of other good leaders but learning from them and incorporating these in a way that works for you. There is an ancient mantra which states ‘know thyself’. Knowing thyself helps clarify your priorities and decisions. People rarely make key decisions that don’t line up with who they believe they are. Everything we are meant to be and do is contained in the DNA of who we are.
Until you know yourself, you can’t sell yourself. People still have to buy into you before they follow you. A leader is a type of salesman because he is selling something – a vision, an idea, himself, a project, a product, etc.
The first step to becoming a good leader is being comfortable in your own skin. You must take the time to take stock of what truly makes you unique. This is a result of being aware of your strengths and weaknesses and then playing to your strengths while managing your weaknesses.
Most leaders are trying to be carbon copies of other leaders and thus come off looking false. You will never be celebrated for your similarities to others but you will be celebrated for what makes you different from others. By all means, you should have leadership mentors or heroes but never sacrifice your uniqueness to be another man’s copy. Imitation might be the best form of flattery but it will not get you very far in life. This is because leadership contexts differ for each leader.
Celebrate your uniqueness, don’t despise it or be ashamed of it. Good leaders have a healthy self-esteem because they are comfortable with who they are. They would readily admit that they are not the finished article but they see themselves as work in progress. Don’t just know thyself but also be thyself.
4 replies on “Know Thyself”
One of the things I have come to understand is that in becoming another man’s copy, the individual attracts the kind of people who are attracted to what he appears to be.
This is dangerous, because in order to sustain and keep these people …keen, the leader has to keep conforming to the pattern created by copying a so called ‘mentor’. When yet in essense what makes the individual attractive is acquiring the core values and taking on those values, not changing yourself. Well at least I would like to think, but then in a not so ideal world such as this we live in, some mentors do want those following them to take on their nature and become like them which is totally wrong.
I recently had a discussion with a leader offering me a business idea, and I thank God for the way she responded when I said it is not something I am interested in, I was happier for it, than to go into something which is already a recipe for disaster because the foundation on which it is built is already wrong.
Know yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses, be clear about your values and your boundaries, be sure to make a solid foundation and yes….Build on It!
It is far better, to take time out of a leadership role and re-assess, and then re-start as the real you, than to keep building something which you intend to last under false representations.
So many young ministers are in this trap and God knows that truly, this is the way that seems right to a man but the end of it is destruction. Thank you for this Ola, I have enjoyed it.
Oh my goodness, I love this!! It speaks to the issue of being true to yourself. Indeed it starts with knowing yourself.
I wish I could literally memorize the words of this article. Everything is not for everyone, and it is so so important to give time to the development of self.
Prof, this is too much, let me just say well done for breaking it down like this, everyone should go ahead and get a DNA test done. There’s too much time being wasted on stuff that isn’t the right stuff for us.
Thank you so much for this article, it truly blessed me. There are a lot of points/principles that can be drawn from this which are not just applicable to leadership but life in general. Theres much to understand about ones self; our faults, success, failures, achievements, character, behaviour etc…but knowing yourself and liking yourself can be very advantageous. Thank you once again.
I am glad that you were blessed by this post. Thanks a lot for the feedback. Have a great and happy 2011.