Personal leadership begins with awareness

Guido Heezen

When enough employees are able to become a better version of themselves, it has a tangible effect on the organization’s culture. Without being instructed to do so, people will be more respectful of each other.

Personal leadership begins with awareness

As an employer, you want to create the right conditions to help your employees become fully engaged with their work. Only that last piece of the puzzle—the piece that lies with employees themselves—is something you have little control over as an employer. How employees conduct themselves and how they act in interpersonal relationships are outside of your organization’s sphere of influence. For example, you cannot say to a chronically overworked or overstressed employee: “I’ve created all the right conditions for you to become an engaged employee, so please bring a little more wisdom and self-motivation to your work.”

A common language

You can promote and facilitate personal leadership. You can offer your employees a wide range of tools in training courses. You can examine what each of your employees need to become better versions of themselves. This could be training on managing their time and energy, or a coaching program to help them handle their fear of failure or issues with aggression.

Beyond that, you can also offer organization-wide training on concentration, feedback or mindfulness techniques. You can also organize optional information sessions on specific topics such as managing workloads and stress, or even health, fitness and nutrition. This will help you to increase awareness among your people and develop a common language, which will, in turn, make it easier to raise personal or team issues.

Conscious incompetence


Personal leadership begins with awareness. Do some concentration training: If you know that it takes you 20 minutes to really get stuck into something important, then alarm bells might start ringing if you haven’t made any progress after slogging away for an hour. As result, you might figure out that if you keep looking at your phone all the time, you’re never going to get into the flow of things. And then you can decide to do something about it.

Once you become aware of areas where you lack competence, it becomes much easier to achieve conscious competence. This kind of insight also makes it possible to ask for the right support. And a common language helps here too. It allows you to say to your colleagues “I’m not going to be around for the next two hours because there’s something I really have to finish.”

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Rise above yourself and the situation

Personal leadership is not just about how you conduct yourself, but also about how you interact with other people. What happens, for example, if someone annoys you? Are you then able to look in the mirror and think: Why am I getting so upset about this comment? After all, it’s only hot air. What does this tell me about the areas I need to work on?

By rising above yourself and the situation at crucial moments, by recognizing and identifying unproductive reactions, you can drastically change the way in which you conduct yourself and interact with others. It becomes clear that things that provoke you are in fact things you struggle with yourself to some degree. Personal leadership increases your awareness as well as your ability to unwind and function at your best — not only in your private life, but also in your work.

Management development for improved team performance

You don’t just develop this kind of conscious mindset on the job. You often have to take yourself out of your work environment and often away from your teammates too. Specialized training can help you to determine which thought patterns and emotions are unconsciously driving your behavior. These automatic reactions are often rooted in the past. Are they still helpful now?

If the answer is “no,” you can use techniques such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to develop effective behaviors. This type of training is relatively expensive, but the results can be well worth it. This is certainly true for managers. If managers learn to act in a way that has positive results for themselves and their environment, then everyone benefits. In many cases, this makes leadership development the fastest way to improve team performance.

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The right organizational culture

When enough employees are able to become a better version of themselves, it has a tangible effect on the organization’s culture. Without being instructed to do so, people will be more respectful of each other. They understand that you can look at the world through a variety of different filters. They know that this means different people experience the same situation completely differently. They become more tolerant and inclusive. When new employees join the organization, they automatically align with this pleasant organizational atmosphere.

When you have such good energy within your organization, people on the outside start to notice. Customers and suppliers start to pick up on it. They will love doing business with you. This is the great power of an organization that invests in personal leadership. It not only has employees who perform better, collaborate more respectfully and have the courage to operate more creatively, but also makes the rest of the world a little brighter, consciously or unconsciously.

Engagement in your work

In a series of ten blogs, Guido Heezen, a Director at Effectory, explains the conditions required to create an engaged workforce. Engagement is the extent to which employees revel in their work. Engaged employees learn quickly and are creative. Engagement is a good predictor for customer satisfaction, low employee turnover, high productivity and profitability.

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