Does any of this actually work..? Yes, yes it does.
Story Time! I want to share a personal story of a project for class in which self-leadership became extremely apparent.
One of my classes this semester has had the focus of leadership. In it, we explored various different aspects of leadership, from trait theories to shared leadership and beyond. One of the requirements for the class, however, was to organize and conduct a community service project that revolved around the theme of leadership.
Our class decided to plan a fashion show. This fashion show was not to be any random fashion show, rather it was to be one that showcased excellent female leaders throughout history so that we could educate the students and faculty on our campus. Our goal was to educate the individuals on our campus about the advancements which women have had throughout the course of time and the amount of influence women can have. This fashion show was all about female empowerment.
The largest part of any production of this size, however, is the planning and organization. The planning of this event brought a chance for all of my classmates and myself to test out our new-found leadership skills.
We broke ourselves into self-assigned committees, which is the point at which we first can see self-leadership permeating into the project. This is because breaking into committees was when we really had to start thinking to ourselves, “What is it that I value? What strengths do I possess and where will I be of benefit? What needs do I have that need to be met?” In other words, this is the beginning of the self-awareness stage. I pondered to myself, quickly, what are my values? I value integrity; I value creativity, respect, and empathy. Then I wondered, in what committee will I succeed, what committee will my presence and skill set benefit the most? So I chose the Aesthetics committee, which basically oversaw the details of what the show would look like and how it would run.
When I was on the committee, I then had to adapt to working with others. I had to learn the values which were leading my group mates’ decisions and actions so that I could work successfully with them. Furthermore, I had to respect the fact that their values and abilities were different from my own, and I needed to respect that. We then all had to work together to figure out the best way to go about discussing our visions and plans for the event so that we could be efficient and successful. This is an ultimate example of others-awareness and others-management, since we were all recognizing each other’s’ similarities and differences and we were working to establish how we could best cultivate our abilities.
This system of understanding each other’s’ abilities and differences allowed us to work in a shared-leadership style quite effortlessly. We understood that each person had a skill set that contributed something that others didn’t. Due to this understanding, we were able to share the leadership by molding from expert to listener, or listener to expert, flawlessly when it came to qualities we either did not or did possess.
Ultimately, this system of being able to fluidly change positions between expert and non-expert and the respect which we all possessed for each other’s’ differences and abilities allowed for a very successful and impactful show.
So yes, self-leadership definitely works, and is a foundation which makes other leadership skills, such as the shared-leadership model, much more impactful and relevant.