The smallest crowd you will ever lead is you—but it’s the most important one. If you do that well, then you will earn the right to lead even bigger crowds. Leading yourself well means that you hold yourself to a higher standard of accountability than others do. Leadership is a trust, not a right.For that reason, you must “fix” yourself earlier than others may be required to.
Dr. John C Maxwell, world famous speaker and bestselling author stated, “to lead others, first lead yourself”. Learning to lead yourself well is one of the most important things you’ll ever do as a leader. Most people use two totally different sets of criteria for judging themselves and judging others. We tend to judge others according to their actions. It’s very cut-and-dried. However, we judge ourselves by our intentions. Even if we do the wrong thing, we let ourselves off the hook if we believe our intentions are good. That’s part of the reason we allow ourselves to make the same mistakes over and over again before we are willing to make real changes.
Retired Brig. Gen. Rebecca Halstead, the first female West Point graduate to be promoted to general of US Army says, "The first person you lead is yourself. If you have to remind people that you are the leader, you're not." According to Gen Halstead, leaders need to train their brains to do difficult things, such as getting up to go running when they would rather sleep. They need to be physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally fit to think forward.
Thomas J. Watson, the former chairman of IBM, said, “Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” Leaders receive very little fanfare for quietly leading themselves well day in and day out. Most people are unaware of the disciplines their leaders practice or the sacrifices they make outside of the spotlight. However, they don’t do it for recognition; they do it for results. What leaders do day-to-day always pays off in the long run. Success or failure isn’t an event, but a process.