Description and Demonstration of Self-Leadership
Self-leadership can be defined as the activity of directing oneself towards some objective or objectives (pg. 163). Several elements comprise effective self-leadership. First and foremost is the aspect of personal goal setting (pg. 163). The setting of objectives is central to the concept and definition of self-leadership. Goal setting is the starting point of self-leadership (pg. 163). Self-determined goals not only motivate employees but have also been proven to result in better performance (pg. 163). However, for employees to benefit from personal goal setting, a high level of self-awareness is required. Self-awareness enables one to assess and understand their current behavior before setting relevant and meaningful goals for self-development (pg. 163).
In my personal experience, self-determined goals have been an invaluable asset to attaining self-leadership. In the workplace, during an internship, I found that setting personal goals gave me something to work towards, a purpose of sorts. It gave meaning and direction to everything I did, and provided a deep-seated sense of satisfaction and fulfillment when I achieved my personal goals. This meant that, for the most part, I was a happy intern who greatly cherished any opportunities to be of assistance and who relished the relationships formed at the office.
The second component of self-leadership can be termed as “constructive thought patterning” (pg. 163). This practice comprises positive self-talk and mental imagery relating to any task at hand and its accomplishment (pg. 163). Self-talk refers to the internal dialogue about our thoughts and actions (pg. 163). On the one hand, negative self-talk is the inner dialogue that limits one’s ability to believe in themselves, their skills, and competencies (pg. 163). Negative self-talk can lead to a deficit in confidence in one’s own ability to perform a particular task. On the other hand, positive self-talk creates optimistic beliefs, which results in greater motivation and diminished anxiety concerning the performance of demanding tasks (pg. 163). All in all, positive self-talk develops confidence and motivation to achieve self-determined goals.
In the realm of self-leadership and constructive thought patterning, the element of mental imagery involves the visualization of specific future actions as well as their successful outcomes (pg. 164). Mental imagery could be divided into three components: mentally practicing a task, anticipating any challenges, and coming up with solutions to obstacles beforehand (pg. 164). This is all topped off by visualizing the successful completion of a task (pg. 164).
During my internship, I adopted the practice of constructive thought patterning to enhance my confidence in my ability to perform specific tasks and achieve self-determined objectives. At first, I had a lot of doubt about my competence to successfully and satisfactorily perform tasks at my place of work. This anxiety was magnified by the fact that I felt inexperienced and relatively unacquainted with my work. However, I had to engage in constructive thinking through positive self-talk and mental imagery to overcome any negative internal dialogue and anxiety about adverse outcomes. This firstly entailed creating a positive inner dialogue about my competence and ability to handle particular tasks. Secondly, I always tried to imagine my supervisor giving me massive praise for performing specific tasks. The result was that I became highly motivated to receive positive feedback and affirmation, which made me dedicated and self-motivated towards attaining specific goals.
The third element of the practice of effective self-leadership involves designing natural rewards (pg. 164). Creating natural rewards is an element of self-leadership that affirms employees’ role in actively crafting their jobs to produce natural rewards that are suitable to their preference, individuality and strengths (pg. 164). This can be done by, for example, being more aware of the importance of a particular task to a client, or even positively reframing onerous tasks as challenges.
The designing of natural rewards was a common theme during my internship. Whenever a difficult task was handed to me, I always tried to keep its importance to the client in mind, and this provided extra self-motivation to pursue excellence. At times, when I was handed a task that seemed difficult, I took it on as a challenge and often did extensive research to increase my competency and understanding of matters at hand.
The fourth element of self-leadership is self-monitoring. This is a process that involves keeping tabs at consistent intervals of the progress one makes towards the realization and attainment of specific self-determined goals, by using “naturally occurring feedback” (pg. 164). According to research, those with greater control over feedback mechanisms regarding their performance tend to perform better than those whose feedback mechanism is controlled by others. Indeed, although we had weekly staff meetings to review our performance during my internship, I took the initiative to spend Friday mornings discussing my weekly performance with the founder of the organization where I was working. I found that this gave me more confidence and motivation to achieve my objectives, and importantly, I was never nervous, anxious, or uncertain during our weekly staff meetings.
The fifth and final element of self-leadership involves self-reinforcement, which occurs when an employee has control over a positive reinforcer attached to a self-determined objective concerning their work (pg. 165). For example, taking a break after reaching a “predetermined” stage of one’s work. During my internship, this was a strategy that I regularly used to keep my mind fresh and motivated throughout the day. After completing a very strenuous task, I would also often reward myself with a savory snack to stay motivated. At the end of it all, I left the internship feeling more confident, less anxious and more certain about my capacity for self-leadership.