Personal leadership refers to how you lead or manage your personal life. If you cannot manage your own life, how then can you manage the lives of others? Before you aspire to lead others, lead yourself first. To know how well you are managing yourself need deep evaluation. Do you have the life you want? Are you achieving your goals? Do you have a vision and a plan for your life? Do you know where your life is going? Personal evaluation helps you locate yourself and plan a way forward.

Understanding where one stands requires asking a lot of questions. It is the answers to these questions that help us to understand how we are doing at leading ourselves and how ready are we to lead others. Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you venture out to lead others. Leadership is about the achievement of goals. Do you have goals? Are you committed to your goals? If you don’t have goals and cannot commit to your own goals, chances are high that you are not yet able to set goals for a team or cause others to commit to the achievement of goals. Setting personal goals is easier than setting group or organisational goals. Other people have ideas of how things ought to be and where things ought to go and that takes leadership to get people to a rallying point. Dealing with self is much easier. The problem is when one doesn’t yet know what they want out of life and how to get it. Such a person isn’t yet fit to lead others. As they say charity begins at home, you have to do it first. Start setting own goals and grow to setting goals for others.

Leadership is about making decisions What kind of decisions have you been making for yourself? What is the best decision you ever made? What is the worst? Leaders are decisive people. Are you decisive? Can you make the tough and hard choices? Or are you hesitant and take ages to make a simple decision? If you can’t decide for yourself, how on earth can you decide for other people? You need to learn to decide for yourself, then decide for others. Decision making is one of the complex functions of leadership and the most sensitive. It needs wisdom, discretion and firmness because the decisions of leaders affect others sometimes in permanent ways and with huge costs. If you can’t decide for yourself on the things that are best for you, how can you know what is best for others? Leadership isn’t something you jump onto, you have to grow into it. As you master yourself, you grow to be able to master others.

Leadership is about judgement. How is your judgement like? We see judgement in the choices you make. Discretion is important in leadership. Leaders face a lot of ambiguous situations that need them to judge even without sufficient information. With poor judgement, you always find yourself in trouble and loss. If your judgement of situations and people is bad just for you, how can you be trusted to judge for other people? What is right and what is wrong isn’t always in black and white; As a leader, one deals with a lot of ambiguities and to see clearly, one need to have a great eye and a great sense. The situations we face as individuals are nothing compared to the complexities people deal with as leaders. Leading self is a training ground to leading others. Learning how to judge well for self leads to being able to judge well for others. Leadership is about setting a good example and standard. What kind of person are you? Can you be said to be a role model or an example? What is your character like, your behaviour and personality? It’s dangerous to give a person still battling bad habits and behaviours leadership, they corrupt everybody.

Before you aspire for leadership, deal with yourself first. What bad habit do you have which might spoil your leadership prospects? What character traits do you need to deal with now? Any obsessions, weaknesses and addictions you need to deal with which might bring dishonour? It takes a lot for people to look at you and see the person they would want to be like. Standard setting is about Excellency. Are you a shady person or you are smart? Do you have a touch of class in what you do or you just do things to get by? Chances are, if you are shady it’s hard to inspire a team to be excellent. You do not know what excellence means so you can’t help any other person to be excellent. Excellence itself is a habit, you can train yourself to be excellent. Through repetition, you can become a thorough person, a detailed person, a smart person and many more. By doing something over and over again, you end up doing it naturally without thinking. Before you can aspire to lead others, where have you led yourself to? What has become of your life? Probability of a failed person leading others to success is low. Before you aspire for interpersonal leadership or leading others, lead yourself successfully first. Become a success at personal level, then move onto becoming a success with and through others. Leadership is about being able to motivate and give hope. You, however, cannot give what you do not have. Are you a motivated person? Do you have hope or you have given up on life already? Do you believe you have the power to make things happen? Motivation is something people can see. You can never fake it. Every leader has to motivate people often through difficult times, to face difficult odds and to deal with difficult situations and tasks. Motivation comes from within and ignites the zeal of others to see beyond a challenge. The problem comes when the leader lacks motivation and has lost hope. As John Maxwell once said, “everything rises and falls on leadership”. A fallen leader cannot raise others neither can a demotivated leader motivate others. You cannot give what you do not have. If you want to be a leader, be motivated and driven from within. Be the source of motivation, be the source of life, only then can you give. Leadership is about accountability. There are people who are not accountable even to themselves. You need to be able to take yourself to task for the things you committed to do and never did. You have to be internally accountable. This is the beginning of understanding the importance of accountability, therefore when it is demanded of you, you are not perplexed. A leader ought to be accountable to self. Taking yourself to task for failure, not always having an excuse. When you are like that, you know how to demand accountability from others and how to be accountable to other too. A person who has no desire to hold themselves accountable is usually a difficult person and usually fails as a leader because leadership always demand that one look inside themselves often.

Leadership is about taking responsibility. This is perhaps one of the most important things. An excuse is not a strategy; there are people who can’t take responsibility for anything at all. Every bad thing is someone else’s responsibility. For every bad outcome there is good excuse. Such people are not yet ready for leadership. Taking personal responsibility is one of the steps to leadership. When one accepts responsibility and acknowledge their short falls and commits to improvement, they are on their way to be a leader. Your life, like leadership is up to you. Realising that you are the central figure is very important. Realising that your every action matters is key and realising in you is the power to make changes is even more important. When things go wrong, take responsibility. Leadership isn’t a blame game.

Leadership ought to be built on solid foundations if it is to make an impact. Your personal life is your training ground for greater leadership. Become a great personal leader, carving out success for yourself and picking important lessons that will help you lead others. I hope you were challenged to work on yourself till you come full circle.