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Leadership Self-Development Journey
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you.
You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
- James Allen
SELF-MOTIVATION: The leader motivates himself with his personal vision, passion, potential and moral convictions.
DECISION MAKING: With firm and apt individual decision making together with skilful facilitation of team decisions the leader ensures momentum and backing for the direction taken.
CHARACTER: Leadership involves many tests of courage, resilience and morality which make strong character indispensable.
ADAPTABILITY: Effective leadership is more a consequence of the leader's ability to adapt well to changes than a consequence of his knowledge or experience.
VISIONARY THINKING: The mental picture of a desired destination, big or small, sparks focused activities and worthwhile endeavours, which is why leaders' first task is to imagine the ideal future.
INSPIRING HOPE: Nothing is as damaging to an organisation as the negative attitudes of its people. It is the leader's uppermost responsibility to inspire hope and create a positive climate.
ORGANISATIONAL AWARENESS: Sufficient awareness of different aspects of the organisation, such as the reason for its existence, the history, structure and culture, enables the leader to align himself and his team effectively.
SELF-CONFIDENCE: To lead requires the confidence to take the first step and have others follow you.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: Leadership is by definition action in the context of relationships. To ignore relationships contradicts leadership whereas building them enhances teamwork.
TREND/SYSTEMS AWARENESS: A big-picture view to spot trends early on and an understanding of the influences of systems and their relationships is needed for the strategic direction that the leader must give.
PASSION: The leader does not only have to have a strong sense of responsibility, but passion for the cause.
TECHNOLOGY AWARENESS: Understanding the potential positive and negative effects of technology in the organisation enables the leader to balance human interests with efficiency.
SELF-REGARD: Positive self-regard is necessary for a leader in order to accept criticism, learn from it and continue leading with confidence.
SELF-DISCIPLINE: The leader's self-discipline sets the standard and example for others without which consistent performance is not possible.
CULTURAL AWARENESS: In an age of globalisation and culturally diverse workplaces, sensitivity for differences is critical to the leader's success in mobilising people as a community.
EMPOWER: The more empowered and free people feel, the more they give to the cause. Rather than trying to control, leaders show trust in people's inherent capabilities.
PERSEVERANCE: Leadership disappears when we give up and emerges when we choose to persevere when others would have given up.
LEADERSHIP STYLE: Different situations require different leadership styles to be effective. Good leaders are flexible and versatile in their style.
COMMUNICATION: The leader's ability and commitment to communicate with clarity and appropriateness is essential to his leadership effectiveness.
CREATIVITY/INNOVATION: Since leaders focus on potential and imagine the future to be different, they demonstrate and encourage innovative and creative thinking.
BUILDING TRUST: By being honest, open and consistent and by showing the willingness to trust the team, the leader lays a strong team foundation for the good, but especially bad times.
BUILDING SUPPORT: A leader must be able to build support for his ideas and direction or else fail as a leader.
AUTHENTICITY: A leader cannot help others unless he shares himself openly and honestly.
LIFE-BALANCE/RESILIENCE: To sustain his energy and ability to focus, and to set a credible example, a leader needs to have good balance between the different areas of his life and model resilience.
CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE: Only by making good heart and mind connections with people can the leader hope to influence them to co-operate enthusiastically.
RECOGNITION: Leaders recognise people privately and publicly out of real appreciation for their contributions as well as personal qualities.
BUILDING TEAM: It is in the development and performance of the team that the leader's effectiveness can be seen.
BEING SERVANT: By choosing to serve and not boss the team, the leader builds them up and collectively they grow to become better leaders in service of the organisation.
HONESTY/INTEGRITY: The leader is credible and ethical to the extent that his beliefs, values, attitude and behaviour forms an integrated whole.
STRATEGIC THINKING: With the vision or goal in mind, leaders accept responsibility for the most effective way to achieve the vision or goal.
SELF-AWARENESS: Self-awareness opens the door to effective communication and the leader's ability to relate to others.
SELF-INITIATIVE: To be a leader is to take the initiative to make a positive difference.

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Trend/systems awareness
Organisational awareness
Visionary thinking
Strategic thinking
Cultural awareness
Technology awareness


Connecting with people
Building relationships
Being servant
Building support
Building team
Building trust
Leadership style
Decision making
Inspiring hope



 What we truly and earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense, we are. The mere aspiration, by changing the frame of the mind, for the moment realizes itself.

Anna Jameson

 Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one's levels of aspiration and expectation.

Jack Nicklaus

To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.

Khalil Gibran

 Faith is not a way of knowing. It is a way of yearning, of aspiring, and so, a way of creating.


If we would allow our emotions to take control of us in times of hardship or times of major disappointment, we would never be able to grow into people who can make significant contributions to society – however talented we might be. We would in effect marginalise ourselves. We will forever be comfortable with the victim-label around our necks. Feelings of anger, resentment, depression and envy, or apathy and indifference, will take control of us. It will prevent us from taking constructive steps that could improve our sense of well-being and potential.

To rise above our disappointments and negative emotions, we need a faith to live by, a self to live with and a purpose to live for, to quote Bob Harrington. As long as we allow our problems, however big they seem to be, to occupy our minds only as problems, we allow them to control our attitudes to life, our perceptions of ourselves, and our behaviours and interactions with others. We allow them to pull us down and make us send out negative signals to the world around us. Fortunately, as human beings, we are blessed with minds that can imagine and hearts that can be lifted to see possibilities, to start believing in something that can give us new meaning and to recognise we are not alone.

The world is a noisy place and it is becoming noisier by the day. To know what we truly believe in, what our aspirations and what our vision in life is, is an ongoing task if we want to experience meaning. This is where self leadership begins. Our task is to be true to ourselves, which sounds easier than what it really is. We can spend years running away from ourselves trying to be what we believe others believe we should be. We might try hiding bad things not only from others but also from ourselves. 

Finding a personal vision comes easier for some than for others. As Peter Senge points out, feelings of unworthiness and feelings of powerlessness are strong forces that tie us down. Some people don’t feel worthy of a calling, a purpose in life that is meant for them specifically. For them it is more comfortable to think of themselves as just one of the crowd - nothing special and nothing particularly bad as well. What is sad is not the fact that many people can’t say that they have a vision for their lives, but that so many have given up looking for theirs - perhaps because they compare themselves with the high-flyers, those who are honoured and praised for their success. We should know that not all people who are seen as successful are true to themselves. They could be miserable in their success because they resist their true calling.

As long as we compare ourselves with others, our pursuit for meaning, personal vision and aspirations in life will be clouded. Our first commitment needs to be to ourselves, based on the belief that we are unique and have a unique purpose in life. We do experience failures of all kinds as we try to advance in life, but we should keep in mind what William Brown rightly said: Failure is an event, never a person.

To live with vision does not mean an easy path to success. It requires discipline and focus to do the right thing however difficult it might be. It requires openness and flexibility when things don’t go according to our whishes or expectations. The desire to control can be our biggest obstacle. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration - James Allen.

The leader in you knows that One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar - Helen Keller. Our aspirations are our possibilities.

- Gerhard van Rensburg

See other writings by Gerhard


The self-development journey
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