Is a lack of self leadership Derailing your organization? The Three Critical Warning Signs That You Might Be Missing
Is a lack of self leadership Derailing your organization? The Three Critical Warning Signs That You Might Be Missing
If your people don’t reach their full potential, neither will your organization
Individual contributors are pivotal to your organization’s success. Despite their essential role, individual contributors are often overlooked when it comes to training and development — and that can derail your organization’s performance and productivity. Your company’s bottom line depends on your front line!
Because individual contributors are often underdeveloped and sometimes neglected, they can become disengaged in their roles.
Organizational initiatives fail because the people responsible for implementing them don’t have the skills required to proactively reach their goals. Consider that fifty percent of employees feel their jobs are stagnant. And one out of three just do their jobs, nothing more.* Why is this the case? We find that it’s largely due to the organization’s lack of training and development for this employee group.
Imagine how successful your organization could be if every employee received the training and tools to become self leaders who take initiative, resolve problems on their own, and actively look for ways to improve their own performance.
High Turnover
If you don’t give your frontline people the tools and training to grow and develop to their full potential, they’ll leave you for an organization that will. Your frontline people are your best investment.
Lack of Contribution
If people aren’t self-starters — taking initiative, proactively contributing ideas, or being as effective as they could be — it drains your managers’ time and energy. Everyone deserves to be their best, to contribute fully, and to make a difference.
Productivity Plummets
When your people aren’t equipped with the skills and tools they need to be self leaders, they don’t know how to ask for what they need and they can’t bring their A game to work. When your people have the mindset and skillset to get their needs met, they bring their best selves to work.
Give Your People the Tools and Training to Become Self Leaders
Self leaders have both the mindset and skillset to get what they need to succeed. When employees develop the right frame of mind and the right skills, they go from passenger, passively waiting for someone to steer them into action, to driver, proactively navigating to get what they need to thrive and contribute their best.
The essential self leadership mindset
We understand how important it is that every employee have the opportunity to learn the skills to help them achieve their full potential. Getting your people in the driver’s seat isn’t necessarily difficult, but you need the right training that focuses on developing the essential mindset of a self leader, including

  1. Challenging Assumed Constraints
  2. Activating Their Points of Power
  3. Being Proactive
Assumed Constraints
For individual contributors to evolve into self leaders, they need to challenge their assumed constraints every day at work. For example, if you assume that your manager should know what you need because she makes more money than you do, you are less likely to seek the help you need. If you assume that no one will listen to your idea because you tried once and were rejected, then you seriously limit your ability to affect positive change.
When your people can challenge their assumed constraints, they put a stop to their negative internal dialogue and take responsibility for pushing their self-imposed boundaries and improving their effectiveness.
An Assumed Constraint is a belief that limits new experiences. Challenge your Assumed Constraints or they will limit your success.
Points of Power
Self leaders understand that position power isn’t the be-all and end-all. They understand their different Points of Power and how to harness them to maximize their full potential, whether it’s tapping into their Position Power (having a position of authority to allocate budget and make personnel decisions ), Task Power (the ability to influence how a job or task is executed), Personal Power (having personal characteristics that provide an edge when pursuing goals), Relationship Power (being connected or friendly with people who have power), or Knowledge Power (experience and expertise).
Believing they lack the power to affect outcomes or take initiative because it’s not specifically spelled out in their job description may be an individual contributor’s greatest assumed constraint.
Self leaders don’t wait to be told what to do. They hold themselves accountable for getting what they need to succeed. They think for themselves and make suggestions for improving things in the department and in their roles. They often think about new projects they’d like to tackle and consider what they might need from their managers to make it happen. They conduct proactive conversations at every level of their development to solicit feedback and ask for direction and support — and they ask for it, which allows them to get their needs met more quickly, improves their sense of autonomy, creates ownership, and boosts performance.
The essential skillset of a self leader
In addition to developing the necessary mindset, self leaders need to pair this with the right skillset. This includes understanding how to set goals, diagnose where they are in regard to their projects and tasks, and negotiate for the leadership style from their managers that matches their diagnosis.
Goal Setting
The first component of a self leadership skillset is the ability to set goals. Self leaders take the lead to make sure their goals are specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable. If a goal lacks specificity, they seek clarification. If a goal is not attainable or relevant, they negotiate to make it more fair, within their control, and tied to the company’s metrics. If a goal is not optimally motivating for them, they reframe the goal so it is meaningful by aligning the goal to personal values or a noble purpose.
Self leaders are self-aware. They understand how to diagnose their own development level—their current level of competence and commitment for achieving a goal or task.
If an individual believes they don’t have the tools, skills, and competence to do a specific task or solve a specific problem, they need to ask for direction: someone to show them how. If individuals doubt themselves and waver on their commitment to do the job, they need to ask for support: someone to listen and facilitate their problem solving. One of the hallmarks of self leadership is learning to diagnose personal competence and commitment and identify what is needed to speed up the process of development and growth.
The third component of a self leadership skillset is the ability to ask for the type of leadership that is needed. After diagnosing their competence and commitment on a particular goal, self leaders need to proactively ask for the direction (guidance and clarification) and support (listening and problem solving) they need to make progress on the goal. For effective self leaders, a leader is anyone who can provide them with the direction and support they need when they need it.
Giving your people the tools and skills to become self leaders is crucial to the success of your organization
These skills ensure that your people develop to their full potential and become productive in, empowered by, and passionate about their work.
When your employees are proactive self-starters, your organization’s change efforts, customer service programs, and other initiatives will succeed. Your individual contributors will know how to get what they need to accomplish their goals, and they will be more satisfied with their work and committed to the success of the organization.