What Is Self-Leadership? 9 Steps To Develop Your Potential

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated April 26, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated April 26, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

Related: Top 8 Leadership Styles - Definitions & Examples

In this video, Jenn, an Indeed Career Coach, explains the top leadership styles in management and how to identify the one that's right for you and your team.

Every great leader has many important qualities that make them successful. One of the most important of these leadership qualities is a strong sense of self-awareness and the ability to use it to lead by example. Developing self-leadership skills can have many benefits in both your personal and professional life. In this article, we discuss what self-leadership is, why it's important and skills you can focus on to develop your own self-leadership.

What is self-leadership?

Self-leadership is the ability to lead yourself to achieve your personal and professional goals and objectives, while also helping the company or organization you work for to be successful. It involves having a good understanding of who you are, where you want to go and what you can accomplish, and having the ability to control your emotions and behavior in a way that guides you toward success.

Related: What Does Leadership Mean?

Why is self-leadership important?

Self-leadership is important because it is necessary to help you accomplish your professional goals and to be a good leader to others. Good leaders must have the ability to lead by example. In business, self-leadership actually benefits the organization as a whole, in addition to the individual. Self-leadership allows a leader to influence others to take action so that the goals of the organization are met.

In addition to helping you achieve your own personal goals for your life and career, benefits of self-leadership include:

  • Makes you more efficient and productive

  • Keeps you motivated and accountable

  • Builds stronger relationships with co-workers

  • Inspires others to follow your lead

Makes you more efficient and productive

Employers often look for candidates who have strong self-leadership skills because they know these skills help the company accomplish its goals more efficiently and productively. Employees who have strong self-leadership skills also have the ability to manage their time effectively and to stay organized in their work. This often results in the company benefiting from increased productivity and high-quality work.

Keeps you motivated and accountable

One of the greatest personal benefits of self-leadership is that it requires you to stay motivated and to be accountable for your own actions. Having a strong sense of motivation will help you push through challenges when they arise, which can result in you achieving more than you thought you could. Being accountable for your actions requires you to be honest when taking self-inventory and provides you the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

Builds stronger relationships with co-workers

Having strong self-leadership skills will help you build strong relationships with your co-workers, supervisors and managers because they will respect your dedication to your role and your work ethic. Co-workers will be more likely to view you as someone they can count on to complete group tasks and projects, while supervisors and managers will appreciate your ability to be productive without having to be micromanaged.

Inspires others to follow your lead

Every great leader needs to have the ability to lead their team by example. This means great leadership begins with self-leadership skills. Because supervisors and managers typically have minimal oversight, if you are in a position of leadership it is important for you to be able to plan and prioritize your own tasks and remain dedicated to completing your work. Even if you aren't in a position of leadership, showing strong self-leadership skills can still have a positive influence on encouraging your co-workers to be more proactive and productive.

Related: How to Demonstrate Leadership Skills at Work

Skills for self-leadership

Here are the most important self-leadership skills to develop:

  • Self-awareness

  • Motivation

  • Decision-making

  • Dedication

  • Influence

  • Empathy

  • Social skills

  • Self-regulation

  • Accountability


The most important skill for developing self-leadership is a strong sense of self. This self-awareness refers to understanding who you are, what your goals are, what your strengths are and areas where you can improve. Good self-leaders have a thorough understanding of who they are as individuals and are able to identify what they want to accomplish. Self-awareness also includes emotional self-awareness, which is the ability to understand your personal moods, emotions and motivations and how they impact you. Individuals who are self-aware can also complete an accurate and objective self-assessment, which leads to self-confidence and development.


Another defining characteristic of self-leadership is being highly motivated. Motivation is the purpose that provides energy to push personal limits and continue to work when challenges arise. Individuals who have strong self-leadership have a passion that drives them to overcome any limitations they may face.


It is important to have strong decision-making skills if you want to develop good self-leadership. You need the ability to know your strengths and weaknesses, identify what you want to do and make a plan for success. It also requires the ability to proactively anticipate needs and challenges and then respond to them in an effective manner when they arise.


Dedication is a commitment to a specific task or purpose. Dedication is important to developing strong self-leadership skills because it helps you stay motivated to complete tasks and stay the course to overcome challenges when they arise.


Influence is another core characteristic of strong self-leadership, which provides you with influence over others because your beliefs and actions inspire them to work harder to achieve the same success you have. The influence you have on others encourages them to model productive and helpful behavior. If you can control your own emotions, thoughts and behavior to accomplish personal goals, this translates as a positive influence on those around you.


Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions and feelings of others and to respond to them in a way that shows you understand and respect their viewpoint. Having empathy requires you to have a deep understanding of your own emotions and feelings, which allows you to make a close connection to the feelings of others and respond appropriately. Empathy is often a skill that leaders need because it allows them to make genuine connections with the people they are leading.

Social skills

Social skills are the ability to build rapport, make strong connections with others and to maintain those relationships. Having strong social skills allows you to build relationships with trust and respect. Every leader needs social skills to effectively encourage their team to follow their lead and work together. Strong social skills are a key component in creating high-performing teams.


Self-regulation is the ability to regulate your own emotions, thoughts and behaviors, without external interference, in a way that is socially acceptable. Self-regulation skills help you respond to challenges rather than reacting to them. A response is the deliberate, carefully thought-out way in which you choose to address a challenge or an unforeseen circumstance, whereas a reaction is a spontaneous outburst. A reaction is typically driven by emotion and a response is driven by logic or reasoning. Strengthening self-regulation skills helps you ensure you respond to challenges in a positive and effective manner.


Accountability is taking responsibility for your own thoughts, decisions, emotions and actions. Accountability is an important skill of self-leadership that is directly connected to many of the other self-leadership skills. Accountability means not blaming someone else when something goes wrong and taking the action needed to correct the issue. A responsible leader is accountable for the actions and behavior of both themselves and their teams. A leader with strong accountability can build more efficient and productive teams.

Related: What Makes a Good Leader? Best Tips & Growth Strategies

In this video, Jenn, a certified career coach, will explain what leadership at work is, essential leadership behaviors, skills and styles, and how to identify the right approach for your workplace.

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