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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-AWARENESS: Self-awareness opens the door to effective communication and the leader's ability to relate to others.
RECOGNITION: Leaders recognise people privately and publicly out of real appreciation for their contributions as well as personal qualities.
AUTHENTICITY: A leader cannot help others unless he shares himself openly and honestly.
PASSION: The leader does not only have to have a strong sense of responsibility, but passion for the cause.
CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE: Only by making good heart and mind connections with people can the leader hope to influence them to co-operate enthusiastically.
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.
SELF-REGARD: Positive self-regard is necessary for a leader in order to accept criticism, learn from it and continue leading with confidence.
BUILDING SUPPORT: A leader must be able to build support for his ideas and direction or else fail as a leader.
HONESTY/INTEGRITY: The leader is credible and ethical to the extent that his beliefs, values, attitude and behaviour forms an integrated whole.
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.
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.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: Leadership is by definition action in the context of relationships. To ignore relationships contradicts leadership whereas building them enhances teamwork.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LEADERSHIP STYLE: Different situations require different leadership styles to be effective. Good leaders are flexible and versatile in their style.
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-MOTIVATION: The leader motivates himself with his personal vision, passion, potential and moral convictions.
BUILDING TEAM: It is in the development and performance of the team that the leader's effectiveness can be seen.
SELF-DISCIPLINE: The leader's self-discipline sets the standard and example for others without which consistent performance is not possible.
PERSEVERANCE: Leadership disappears when we give up and emerges when we choose to persevere when others would have given up.
TECHNOLOGY AWARENESS: Understanding the potential positive and negative effects of technology in the organisation enables the leader to balance human interests with efficiency.
SELF-INITIATIVE: To be a leader is to take the initiative to make a positive difference.
STRATEGIC THINKING: With the vision or goal in mind, leaders accept responsibility for the most effective way to achieve the vision or goal.
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.
CHARACTER: Leadership involves many tests of courage, resilience and morality which make strong character indispensable.
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.
COMMUNICATION: The leader's ability and commitment to communicate with clarity and appropriateness is essential to his leadership effectiveness.
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.
SELF-CONFIDENCE: To lead requires the confidence to take the first step and have others follow you.
CREATIVITY/INNOVATION: Since leaders focus on potential and imagine the future to be different, they demonstrate and encourage innovative and creative thinking.

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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


Defining conversations with ourselves

 Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.

Roy Smith

 Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.

Anais Nin

 Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself - and be lenient to everybody else.

Henry Ward Beecher

It is the conversations we have with ourselves that determine our actions and choices in life. To raise the quality of our actions and contributions to our families, work organisations, communities and society at large, we need to raise the quality of our conversations with ourselves. The more we succeed in doing so, the better we are able to balance continuous challenging of ourselves with satisfaction about what we were able to achieve. When one of the two (challenging ourselves or enjoyment in what we do) stops, the other follows and life becomes miserable.

Jesus told the story of a man who went on a journey and entrusted his assets to his workers. Each of the three workers received an amount of money to look after on their master's behalf. The two who received five and two talents (a money measurement) respectively, through their work doubled the amount that was given to them. The third one however dug a hole in the ground and hid the money in it. A long time went past before the master came back. He was happy to see that two of the workers doubled the amount that was given to them. He praised them as faithful and promised them more responsibility. The third one who hid the money in the ground immediately came up with an excuse: 'I knew that you were a hard man... so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.' The master rebuked him, said he was lazy and then took the money from him and gave it to the worker who had ten talents after doubling the five that was given to him.

What would the conversation have been that the lazy worker had with himself? Probably something like 'I cannot risk the chance of losing the money. I fear my master will be very angry with me. Better if I go and hide it.' Even given a long time to reflect on his decision, his thinking didn't change. He did not apply his thinking and energy to do the best he can with the responsibility given to him. He got used to the thoughts of excusing himself for not doing anything. His main concern and consideration was self-protection. The other two however knew that their efforts were not about themselves and their own kingdoms, but how they can best serve their master. If we have the disposition to serve others well, we stop looking for excuses and start looking for opportunities.

If our conversations with ourselves are dominated by the question 'what is in it for me?', we will find it impossible to truly connect with others. We will find it impossible to enrich our lives with good quality relationships. The many different dimensions of life that can grow and awaken our spirit, will escape us. The man who lives by himself and for himself is likely to be corrupted by the company he keeps, as Charles Parkhurst said.

Another challenging conversation with ourselves is when we doubt ourselves. Even the most self-confident among us will experience self-doubt from time to time. It is that feeling of uncertainty about your ability to accomplish something. As a result the sense of insecurity can lead to hesitation and indecision. We can even abandon our course or radically compromise our expectations. We therefore need to take the feeling of self-doubt seriously and find ways to overcome it. To grow belief in yourself is fundamentally a spiritual, not a mental, exercise. Keep in mind that when we conquer doubt, it yields stronger resolve.

Our determination will always be greater once we successfully meet challenges to our self-confidence. Once we develop a history meeting doubt head on and conquering it, we become much less susceptible to its influence. It will still surface from time to time, but we will see it coming, and know how to neutralise it. It is important to recognise and acknowledge your doubt. Try to identify the source or the area of your life that creates your sense of uncertainty. Then work out an action plan to overcome it. What small steps can you take in that area that will give you a sense of making progress that will build your confidence?

Tied in with the above conversations with yourself, is the conversation about discipline. Discipline comes from the belief that Aristotle articulated: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. If we allow ourselves to keep on questioning the use or enjoyment of earlier resolutions, we will never unlock latent potential and we will never reap the fruits of doing something that is right and good consistently. To master our weaknesses for distractions that prevent us from forming habits of excellence is hard and never fully complete, but it makes all the difference! In some areas, due to our natural personal preferences, we find it a lot easier than in others. Yet, there are disciplines we know are necessary for excellence. Our dedication to those disciplines will earlier or later proof their value.

Lastly, a key question that set the trend of our thoughts repeatedly, is: Do I expect things from others that I am not prepared to do myself? Am I selective in how I apply standards? Do I, in my thoughts, paint myself as a victim or do I accept the responsibility of my free will to create a path for myself. In Henry Beecher's words: Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself - and be lenient to everybody else.

- Gerhard van Rensburg

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