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4 Ways Management can Boost Self-leadership at the Workplace

Self-leadership is a skill set for all employees in an organization so they are able to develop, manage and direct themselves to perform effectively both in professional and personal life. The application of this skill set is possible when the organization’s goals and values are in sync with all its employees at an individual level. 

While employees themselves need to work on both behavioral and cognitive strategies to work on their self-leadership, management can also help to boost this skill set in a few ways.

Four of the most effective ways to boost self-leadership are: 

  1. Be ready to have self-leaders

Before management starts their planning of embedding self-leadership amongst their employees, it’s advisable to begin by observing and assessing their organisational culture. This guides them to decide about their readiness for change, as well as directs them to explore and understand the processes and benefits of self-leaders in organizations.

Once the general norms and regulations are established in the organization, management can shift their focus on self-leadership as a skill set during the recruitment. The most common way to build self-leaders is through recruiting individuals that have a good predisposition for this skill set. 

  1. Encourage and educate

Research shows that recognition can help employees achieve a specific target. Hence, encouraging employees with small gift gestures and awards can help in building their self-leadership. 

Oftentimes developing self-leadership requires education or training with emphasis on learning specific technical and soft skills to further boost self-leadership. To do this, managers can work as coaches themselves or the organizations can hire professional coaches to help employees learn these skills through various workshops. 

For new employees, management should also assess  and together plan about how they could do their work most efficiently, and which areas they could improve upon at the moment. Encouraging them at the beginning further helps them to make better and positive changes amongst themselves and to bring up concerns sincerely and honestly.

  1. Trust your employee’s self-leadership

After training and encouragement, trusting your employee’s self-leadership becomes necessary as employees tend to work along with opportunities in order to prove themselves. Bouncing them around from one task to another without clear reasoning can negatively affect your employees’ self-leading behaviours. Hence, management can assign authentic authority within set limits to employees over their own work, such as setting deadlines for their projects while keeping in mind the required set of projects to be achieved within the following months.

And if the manager thinks that an employee is confused and is slightly off the desired path, instead of telling them what to do or where to move ahead, they can simply ask them leading questions so they can begin to steer themselves in the right direction.

Problem Employees: How To Manage Difficult Employees

  1. Establishing a common leadership language

Managers who themselves have leadership skills at times face difficulty in communicating and transferring these leadership skills or mentoring their subordinates. Even research shows that 93% of managers feel that they need training on how to coach their employees. Hence, it’s important to first give training to managers to further teach them about how to effectively build a common leadership language which helps them to make effective communication.

To start working on this common leadership language, manager should focus on:

  1. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. 
  2. What competencies they need to work on to become a self-leader.
  3. How to convey the importance of those competencies to the employees.
  4. How to teach these competencies to the employees.
  5. What could be the measures to evaluate the progress of the employees.

Self-leadership programs boost employee performance and innovation in an organization and to achieve this they need both managers and management support. 

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How to achieve Self-leadership at Workplace?

“Have you ever found yourself in front of a task at work that requires more than the normal amount of motivation from you? This process of identifying such desired experiences, and consciously pursuing them is known as Self-Leadership.”

Self-leaders at an organization have become an integral and crucial part for it to function in a healthy way. Two of the most important reasons are:

  1. The traditional “leaders” won’t actually be truly successful at leading or managing others until they can effectively self-regulate themselves at the workplace.
  2. Self-leadership provides 5 benefits for employees and their organizations. These benefits are:

  • Building greater insight into an employee’s behavior at work.
  • Developing the personal drive and commitment within an employee to successfully execute the vision of the organization.
  • Developing accountability within an employee. 
  • Building proactiveness amongst the workforce.
  • Help employees to use their time more effectively. 

Research also pointed out that 83% of organizations acknowledged that it’s important for them to develop leaders at all levels and 53% of organization’s top priority is filling the leadership gap that would be created by the new millennial workforce. 

Furthermore, self-leadership is essential to build clarity for followership as well. One of  Ford Motor Co. executives stated that, “We started participative management, but we didn’t know what that meant for the subordinate!” What are the responsibilities of the follower? How does he or she behave in a participative management situation?” 

Develop Self-leadership at workplace: 2 Strategies for employees

Self-leadership has shown to use specific sets of behavioral and cognitive strategies to determine an employee’s performance outcome. Hence, working on these strategies can help boost self-leadership within an employee.  

  1. Behavior-focussed strategies

These strategies are designed to help employees organize and direct their work life more effectively. These include:

  • Self-observation

Self-observation is a process of closely observing one’s own behaviors to understand why they act the way they do within different situations. This is helpful for employees to assess and decide which of their behaviors require improvements. For example, an employee who’s facing a productivity issue can make informal notes on documenting instances or distractions that could be the potential causes for the said behaviour.  

Another effective method to build self-observation is through building a habit of journal writing, about your thoughts and feelings every day. As you make more and more entries, try to be specific about the following questions: 

  • What positive and negative events happened today?
  • What did you learn today?
  • How can you better manage your work behavior in the future?

Lastly, doing rehearsals or practicing these desired behaviors at the workplace can help avoid expensive blunders at the organization.

  • Setting and optimizing goals

To increase your productivity on any task, setting goals helps in bringing out the best within you while working. You can use the SMARTER goals method where the goal must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely, evaluate and readjustable. 

Therefore, if an employee is assigned to work on an individual project, then the employee should be clear about the project to begin with, which involves thinking about if it’s actually relevant and attainable or not, then set up a deadline to further motivate oneself for work and give him enough time for possible readjustments after feedback, and at last, think about how that work will be evaluated. 

  • Establishing accountability

A sense of responsibility and/or accountability is important to understand the impact that our actions might have on others. To develop responsibility within the workplace an employee can:

  1. Recognize their own mistakes and open themselves for discussions with others.
  2. Involve others in the process of making goals for projects. 
  3. Share their deadlines and ideas with others. 
  4. Provide updates on progress. 

  1. Cognitive-focussed strategies

Cognitive-focussed strategies aid in developing effective thinking that helps to identify room for growth as well as for motivating self especially during stressful circumstances. These include:

  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses

Identifying strengths and weaknesses within yourself, can help you to use these strengths to gain a competitive edge for yourself as well as address your weaknesses to work on them before they cost a setback. 

To identify them try to regularly ask yourself, “what are some of your strengths and weaknesses?” and “What can you do today to work on them?”. Try to think about a few examples of your strengths and weaknesses to gain more clarity. After a while, start taking feedback from others as well to work on certain weaknesses of yourself that you might’ve missed. 

Furthermore, try to establish a connection between values and self-leadership by asking yourself, What are your core values? Do you also show these values in your self-leadership, if not then, How can you do it?

  • Building natural rewards into tasks

Redesigning your setting and nature of the work can help to increase the level of natural rewards at your job. These rewards result from activities that make you feel a sense of competence, self-control and purpose.

For example, an employee might try to create a work environment that helps him to perform better by playing his favorite music or adding personal touches such as a family picture on his desk. Furthermore, they can even shift their mind to things they most like about the job such as working outdoors or interacting with co-workers. 

  • Build effective thought-pattern

Effective thought-pattern means establishing constructive and functional habits or patterns in your thinking that positively affect your performance. These habits include:

  • Searching for opportunities rather than obstacles when faced challenges (for example, focusing on the learning after meeting a failure)
  • Imagining yourself achieving your goal whenever you feel a lack of motivation
  • Making a habit of repeating positive self-affirmations such as “I am going to focus on solutions to get through any hard situation”, “I will be OK” and “If I keep working on anything, I will keep improving myself in it”. 

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