Personal leadership is our most valuable leadership responsibility because at its core it is about intentionally partnering with God to become exactly who He has created us to be.
I am not a fan of mirrors, but I struggle to verbalize my aversion. When we look in the mirror, we simply see a reflection of who we are. If we imagine we are beautiful, we see beauty. If we believe we look weary and spent, that is reflected back to us. And though I tend to avert my eyes from the mirror, I have learned its value in leadership terms. The face in the mirror is the person hardest for me to lead. Yet I have discovered that in leading her well, I can lead others more fully.
Lately there seems to be a heightened emphasis on leadership. Everywhere we look—in our jobs, our churches and our communities—we are offered leadership training. Although I have a keen interest in the subject, one of the most challenging questions I have had to ask in my pursuit of information and understanding is, “Am I leading myself?” The desire of my heart is to be a truly transformational leader, but I can be messy. There is often a gap between who I desire to be and who I am. I have learned that the mirror is an excellent place to sort that out.
Personal leadership is our most valuable leadership responsibility because at its core it is about intentionally partnering with God to become exactly who He has created us to be. To lead from within means to cultivate a dynamic and intimate relationship with God. It requires the courage and willingness to look in the mirror first, without judgment, yet to see the truth, to see the dark and the light, the shadow and the sun. A woman who leads herself first sees her limitations in order to manage them and their impact on others. She is not self–centered. She is gracefully self–aware; she is in touch with her emotions, and she regulates her actions with humility. She leads with empathy and understanding, with the ability to put herself in another’s shoes. She works to inspire and to motivate those around her. She facilitates trust with honesty and integrity, and reflects on herself in order to lead others well.
In practical terms, you need to:
- Find the tools to help you discover who you are and how you lead, and to persevere in spite of the difficulties you face.
- Seek out and welcome accountability from others you trust, as it will open the door to a much fuller understanding of who you are.
- Be intentional about life-long personal development. Become comfortable with your story. Reflect on the places you have been, the mountain tops and the valleys.
- Define your strengths and passions in light of your limitations and embrace them. When you have intimate knowledge of who you are, you can begin to master the art of leading.
Most importantly, remember that our Lord will never lead you to accomplish something that He does not equip you to manage. Recognize your skills and limitations but don’t let them keep you from achieving the very best for His Kingdom.
If you can lead yourself, you can model the way for others. It all begins with a glimpse in the mirror.