Lead Yourself – A Marriage of Two Counter-Intuitive Partners

“Lead yourself” sounds like a great idea…. what does it really mean and how can leading myself help to create a thriving workplace culture that results in productivity and effectiveness?  

This is a conversation worth exploring.  

With today’s world moving at an unprecedented pace, the speed of change is prompting some of us to work harder and longer.  This all feels urgent and important.  It’s costing us our emotional, physical and relational health.  Does this create more productivity and effectiveness?  Hardly.  

AND there is a siren call from the wings for us to take care of ourselves; “self-care,” they call it.  

“What is that anyway?” many of us wonder, thinking that it’s for those people who like pedicures or bubble baths.  Do wine, chocolate, bubble baths, fishing trips, expensive vacations, expensive toys all add up to self care.  Perhaps and perhaps not.  

“We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in US history.” 

Brené Brown

I believe that it’s time to start a new conversation…. a conversation about a paradox that some people have learned how to manage and even leverage.  

The paradox is found embedded within two concepts that appear to be at odds with each other…..  Servant Leadership and Self Care. 

For twenty five years I explored the ins and outs of servant leadership through church ministry, first as a “lay” leader and then as a “pastor’s wife”.  I had the privilege and responsibility of serving the people of many churches in those twenty-five years.  Lots could be said here. 

There were many lessons learned… and some that were learned too late.  


What is Servant Leadership?  

Servant leadership turns a power pyramid upside down; the leader exists to serve the people.  This is an ancient philosophy that is embedded in many traditions outside of Christianity.  Robert Greenleaf, championed the idea of servant leadership for business and organizations in the 1970’s.  

The more I spend understanding successful business practices, the more I see that a servant leadership model is at the heart of many incredible organizations.  

What is Self Care?  

Self Care is many things to many people.  The kind of self care that I am a proponent of is really more like soul care.  It’s about mindfully choosing thoughts, attitudes and behaviours that align with the very best person I want to be.  Guy Winch, in his TEDx talk, refers to it as emotional first aid.  

It requires having difficult conversations.  

It requires boundaries. 

It requires trust and self trust. 

It requires vulnerability. 

It requires self compassion. 

It requires mindfulness.  

Sometimes this requires the self care that most of us recognize… like the bubble bath…. but so much more.  In short, self care is difficult, gritty and extremely important.  Why? We cannot give what we do not have.  

I still remember when I understood the truth that Dr. Brené Brown shares in her work…. “The most compassionate people are also the most boundaried people.”  Do you read the tension in that statement?  It’s so counterintuitive.  

What does it mean to “Lead Yourself”?  

Set aside the platitudes… this is not for the faint of heart. It is for the determined.  Leading yourself takes grit.  When you have the grit to get real about the internal conversation your having so that you can see the people around you with generosity and offer the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words and actions of others, that’s when you are practicing “Leading yourself’.  At it’s core, I believe this paradox embraces all of the deepest nuances of another word that many of us do not truly understand….love.  

Peter Senge calls it Personal Mastery.

Dan Siegel calls it Whole Brain Thinking

David Rock calls it the Neuroscience of Leadership

Brené Brown calls it Wholehearted Living

When we can hold these tensions in our hands and see the beauty and the value of the parts and the whole, relationships flourish, problems can be solved and money becomes a natural byproduct of the culture.  

Servant Leadership and self care aren’t in opposition with each other, they compliment each other and empower leadership and personal health to flourish in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.  

They are married…. at least they need to be.  

What are next steps to embrace “Leading Yourself”?  I’d love to be your coach and your guide.  Contact me today.