The Leadership of Yourself. 

If you want to be a leader, you have to be a real human being. You must recognise the true meaning of life before you can become a great leader. You must understand yourself first.

Senge 2004 

Leadership becomes a chore if we neglect the personal qualities and solely work on professional attributes. To develop your own guidance, leaders should dedicate time to themselves. The self is the principal aim, through cultivating their ideal self and consolidating by developing trusted relationships.


Figure 1 Boyatzis’ Theory of Self-Direct Learning (Goleman, Boyatzis, and Mckee, 2002)

Let start with Boyatzi questions.

  1. My ideal self – who do I want to be within my role?
  2. My real self – who am I currently? What is the overlap between the real and the ideal?
  3. My learning agenda – This acts on question 2 your strengths are within the overlap and your weaknesses in the differences.

Once you have identified a Venn diagram with yourself and your ideal, we act to learn.

Looking back at the Point 3,4 and 5 (on the figure) can be difficult. The leadership of the self is linked to leadership learning in your organisations. Leaders should change aspects of their behaviours, thoughts and feelings and see what works, what brings them towards their ideal and what takes them away? The process described is action research within yourself. The final stage of leadership is cementing that learning through practice.

This all sound very Machiavellian and self-indulgent, without knowing where you are (who you are) and your destination within yourself. The lack of vision will stay static or flounder around aimlessly.

I see real parallels with learning cycles for our pupils. Learning leads to use outside the classroom but also it is intrinsically linked to the learning process within the classroom. This point is echoed by Dennison and Kirk who describe four elements in a learning process, drawing on the model by Kolb and Biggs and Moore (National School Improvement Network, 2002, p1)


‘This cycle highlights activity in learning (Do), the need for reflection and evaluation (Review), the extraction of meaning from the review (Learn), and the planned use of learning in future action (Apply). (ibid. p1)


(ibid. p1)

Let’s go further with the analogy, in the above learner and teacher (a and b) are the same. We are, in essence, talking about self-directed phronesis led learning, then an adaption process (part c) followed by an evaluation of the outcome on oneself. Redrawing the diagram, emphasising the real power in the figure is how the self, reflection the action and change are all interdependent.


Leaders become adept at evaluating their actions on the organisation; no leadership can occur without this criticality. However, as leaders, how often do we value our effects on ourselves and within the school context? As well as how do these actions and learning cycles impact on the wider context in this case ourselves? And finally, how do they impact on our personal development.

The act of measuring your growth, analysing your starting point can become extremely difficult.

Further Reading 

Carnell, E. and Lodge, C. (2002) Supporting Effective Learning. London: PCP

National School Improvement Network. (2002). Effective Learning. London: UCL Institute of Education. NSIN Bulletin. [Online]. Summer 2002, 17. Available from: …. [Accessed: 30th May 2019].


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