Leading Yourself

by John Mitchell, AATC's Chief Executive Officer

Best-selling author Daniel Goleman once said, “The best gift you can give the people you lead is a healthy, energized and focused self.” Realizing that’s somewhat out-of-the-box, the leaders I know typically spend most of their time thinking about how best to care for the people they lead, or the people they work with, or the people they report to… rather than themselves.

Steve Roach with Capstone long-ago challenged me to consider how much of my time was spent putting-out-fires verses developing innovative ideas, as well as new opportunities and relationships. Business Hall of Fame author Dee Hock recommends leaders invest 50 percent of our time in the task of leading ourselves and the remaining time divided into leading all our other relationships. I think the wisdom expressed by both these men is important for leaders to digest.

Author and pastor Bill Hybels says, “the only person who can give you the balance, vision, and energy required to lead is yourself.”  GE CEO Jack Welch agrees, “People in leadership have to have so much energy and passion that they energize and impassion the people around them.” It’s our job to keep our passions hot.

Hybels goes on to explain, “Good leaders don’t have to be the sharpest pencils in the drawer or the one with the most charisma, but teammates don’t follow a leader with character flaws. It’s the leader’s job to demonstrate character based on good ethics and trust. That’s who people follow, and no one can do that for us.”

“We all have wounds, losses, and disappointments in the past. That’s what shapes (or misshapes) us into who we are today,” says Hybels. Who’s responsible for your own issues getting processed and resolved? You are.

Perhaps the most valuable words of wisdom provided by all these leaders are the importance of caring for the people they work with. “Our greatest resource, our most valuable treasures are the people in our lives,” says Goleman. “We must take every opportunity to lead ourselves, so we can become the greatest we can be at taking care of our treasurers.”