Being a leader means helping others reach their potential, and it is an incredibly rewarding thing to do, but too many think leadership means just that, and neglect their own needs in the process.
There is a mindset that helping yourself be the best you can be is too selfish, that you must focus on others all the time, but the reality is, that is how leadership goes wrong. I’m not saying selfishness is a good trait, but to be a good leader you must be in the best position yourself, and that means spending time making sure that you are reaching your potential. So yes, to be a good leader means that sometimes you may need to be a little selfish and take care of yourself first. After all, every teacher needs to study before teaching others.
Thinking about this subject in more depth, when helping yourself first, you are benefitting everyone else, because as a leader, if you fail, you take everyone else with you. In that context, is looking after yourself, making sure you are in the best position to lead through any challenge truly selfish? It may seem so, but by being the best you can be, you are helping your team and those dependant on your success too. It’s an interesting dichotomy, and one that far too many struggle with. A lot of it stems from expectations we place on ourselves, that a leader must be strong, focused, leading by example and so on. But the reality is that by making sure you are prepared, ready for the challenge and in the position where you can give your best for the team, is that not leading by example?
Being strong doesn’t have to mean pushing through adversity or anything like it. Being strong is recognizing you need to be at your best to lead and taking the time to make sure you are. It can be a difficult switch to put yourself first, because internally, your mind is telling you that you must support everyone else, and selfishness is definitely a negative trait. So, when our actions appear selfish, the natural tendency is to think that what we are doing is wrong, something to regret doing.
But you can overcome this, and to be the best leader you can be, you will need to overcome it.
It does take a change in mindset though, and I hinted at how you can do that earlier. For your team or business, and everyone in it to succeed, they need the best leadership possible. That means YOU the leader must be in the best place possible to lead them. Putting yourself first to ensure that you are in the best place possible is not selfish in the true sense of the word then, rather it is a positive approach to leadership to make sure you can give your best for others. That is not something to be ashamed of or regret, it is something to be proud of, because it helps everyone else too.
Its not just you however that should feel proud. Those you lead should welcome it too, because until you are right, they will never be either. By spending time on yourself, the ultimate outcome is better for everyone, which is the entire point of leadership, to lead the group to better outcomes.
So, next time you feel you need to be a little selfish and spend time on your own wellbeing, remember, it’s a positive action that your business, your team and those you lead will all benefit from over time.
Simply put, as a leader, build your castle, before building others theirs.