To Lead Others, Learn To Lead Yourself First

Bob and Gregg Vanourek of Triple Crown Leadership and author John Baldoni share their thoughts on where true leadership starts–with yourself.

To Lead Others, Learn To Lead Yourself First

I believe that the greatest truths of the universe don’t lie outside, in the study of the stars and the planets. They lie deep within us, in the magnificence of our heart, mind, and soul. Until we understand what is within, we can’t understand what is without. Anita Moorjani, Dying To Be Me

Envisioning a better future, setting worthy goals, and following through with sustainable impact first and foremost requires leading yourself. Often leadership is a lonely road. And to keep ourselves inspired, motivated, and energized we need to lead ourselves with our heart, purpose, and devotion.


In one of my recent posts, I discussed nine mental disciplines for becoming an authentic leader. Using that article as a backdrop, last week, I had a virtual roundtable with:

Bob and Gregg Vanourek, @TripleCrownLead, co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership. Bob has been CEO or a senior officer at numerous public companies and a university leadership instructor. Gregg has co-authored three books and teaches at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship and Royal Institute of Technology.

John Baldoni, @JohnBaldoni, author of 10 books, including Leading with Purpose. He is an internationally acclaimed leadership coach, author and speaker. In 2012, Leadership Gurus International ranked John No. 10 on its list of global leadership gurus.


Based on our roundtable discussions, I’ve outlined three key dimensions of leading yourself:

1. Head vs. Heart
How do we lead with our head while we follow our heart?

Bob and Gregg Vanourek: “Distinguished author and teacher Parker Palmer captured the essence of ‘heart’ when he wrote “that center in the human self where everything comes together–where will and intellect and values and feeling and intuition and vision all converge. It meant the source of one’s integrity. It takes courage to lead from the heart.”


Heart encompasses what energizes people, what carries them through adversity, what drives them to win. Your head capabilities are rational, logical, and ordered, using many managerial skills and tools.

Blending your head and heart is essential to great leadership. When confronted with a difficult decision, especially one involving an ethical dilemma, the leader will ask if the choice being considered is:

•Logical, “smart,” with the proper risk/reward ratio (head stuff).
•Consistent with my personal values and the values I share with colleagues (heart).
•Something my conscience can live with, even if the choice becomes known to the world (heart).
•Serving my stakeholders, not my ego (heart).


Experience teaches us that, when your head and heart signal different directions, following your heart is wise.”

2. Leading with Purpose
What does leading with a purpose mean?

John Baldoni: “Purpose is the great untapped reservoir that leaders can tap into to unleash the potential of their organization. Successful organizations need leaders who know themselves first; have the inner compass that points them in the right direction. Many leaders never take the time to do so. Take time to reflect on what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you will do it.


And a leader’s purpose serves as a lodestar by pointing people in the proper direction. It gives rise to:

vision –where an organization is headed;
mission –what the organization does; and
values –what holds the organization together.

Leaders use purpose to rally people together for a common cause.”


3. The Power of Devotion
How to stay the course in life’s journey?

Faisal Hoque: “There is just NO substitute for hard work. Almost all very successful people work harder than most people can ever imagine. As Business Insider reports, “From athletes like Michael Jordan to executives like Howard Schultz, these people are known for waking up early and working toward a goal while other people are still in bed, and staying later than everyone else too”.

I call it devotion or ‘SHADHONA’. The Sanskrit word ‘SHADHONA’ means “life’s pursuit with discipline.” I was born not too far away from where Buddha was born. Sages and monks are still roaming around debating about longing, devotion, and duties. With my affinity towards Eastern philosophies, I believe that when our devotion turns into discipline, it is only then we can begin to lead ourselves.


Based on Buddha’s teaching, I believe devotion begins with:

right effort –without effort, nothing can be achieved;
right mindfulness –to actively observe and guide our minds towards our journey; and
right concentration –concentration on wholesome thoughts and actions.

While we cannot control everything by an act of will, we can certainly be devoted to life’s pursuit. And as a result, our personal devotion turns us into better leaders. They don’t say, lead by example for nothing.”


As the late Stephen Covey so eloquently stated, “personal leadership is not a singular experience. It is, rather, the ongoing process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with those most important things.”

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[Image: Flickr user Kevin Morris]