Many leaders battle with issues of self management. No leader can be successful if he doesn’t understand himself and is not the master of his own art. There are so many things required of people who desire to be successful. Leaders who fail in these areas have their credibility and competence questioned.

Self management is one area in the life of a leader which requires self discipline. Self discipline is the factor that determines the success or failure of self management. There are many aspects of self management that specifically determine the success of a leader. Some of these include how they manage their time, emotions, priorities, energy, thinking, words and personal life. These seven key areas determine the success of a leader. Let us consider practical strategies which can be applied in these seven areas:

1. Master your emotions

Unmanaged emotions have ruined so many lives. Some leaders take decisions based on biased emotions which affect their output. Leaders who are emotional time bombs don’t get their expected outcome. It is important for all of us to manage our emotions but it is of utmost importance for a leader to control his emotions. This is because whatever the leader does affects many more people. As humans, we are liable to emotional bias when taking decisions and that is not a good quality in a leader. There are times when a leader is expected to shed off all emotions and take decisions based on logic or the reality of what is on ground. And there are also times when as a leader you are required to show emotions to let your followers feel what you feel.

For instance, there are situations where a leader is expected to delegate a task to “team A”, but because he is emotionally attached to “team B”, he delegates the task to “team B”. This is dangerous because it will tell on the outcome of the project. This doesn’t mean that a leader should deny or bury his emotions. A leader who seeks to succeed does not put himself first. Rather, he puts his task and others first while also keeping his emotions in check. Whether he delays or shows his emotions, it is not usually to show off, but for the good and progress of his followers.

2. Proper time management

Time management is crucial for anyone seeking to succeed in any endeavour. Proper time management talks about productive use of time. It is important that we do not mistake activity for productivity. What that means is that a leader could be engaged in activities that are not productive. That is not proper use of time. Time is valuable. Psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck said, “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it” In What to Do Between Birth and Death (Wm. Morrow & Co., 1992), Charles Spezzano says that “People don’t pay for things with money, they pay for them with time.” A leader should be able to know the proportionate value of time and how it relates to the success of his task. Once he is able to manage time, then he has set himself on a path for productivity.

3. Choose your priorities

Our priorities inform our decisions. A man that has made his family his priority will go all out to provide and be the man of his household. Decisions are made based on what a leader prioritises as important. And you know the summation of our decisions makes our destiny. John Maxwell, a leadership expert, in one of his publications, The 360 Degree Leader says leaders in the middle class should use 80% of their time to work where they are strongest, 15% of their time to work where they are learning and 5% of their time to work in other necessary areas. This timely analysis of the expert John Maxwell simple tells us that our priorities guide our decisions. A leader who wants to be successful in self management bases his priorities on those things which are necessary and not those things which are just desired. A leader’s priority will inform the actions of his followers and determine what the future will look like.

4. Manage your energy

The passion of a leader to his cause, determines the level of energy he puts into it. Energy levels vary from person to person. Passion is the fuel for energy in any cause. A leader that has lost his passion will have his energy level reduced. Once the energy level of a leader is reduced, he should do a thorough check on his passion. You should check your source of passion and reignite it to get your energy level increase. The expectation on a leader is always high, so he needs high energy level to function.

It is difficult circumstances that suck the energy of most leaders. For instance, when they face situations that seem impossible, their energy gets used up. When they are faced with such situations they are supposed to think their way out. But oftentimes, they get busy. The greatest enemy of good thinking is busyness. A leader who wants to be successful in self management manages his energy level by checking his passion. So, once a leader is able to reignite his passion, his energy level increases, then he can overcome his challenges.

5. Right Thinking

“As a man thinks in his heart so is he” is a saying from the holy book which is relevant for leaders today. A leader is a prisoner of his own thoughts. Ideas and various conceptualisations originate from thoughts. The mind will give back to you exactly what you put into it. All actions come from premeditated thoughts processed by the brain. Many people find it hard to complete a thought process from beginning to end due to busyness. A leader who wants to master his art through self management takes time to think through ideas, processes and decisions before taking action. It must be noted that it is not enough to think, but to think right; that is to exercise the mind with the right thoughts about a process or an idea to bring it to reality.

6. Check your words

Too many leaders commit themselves with their words. In trying to gratify themselves, they say things they can’t do. Legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, said, “Show me what you can do, don’t just tell me what you can do” It is important that as a leader, you back up your words with actions. This is because your followers would know that you are bound by your words. They can go to rest knowing that you will fulfil your words. Followers value actions than words. A leader should always act in line with every word he speaks.

7. Control your personal life

Your personal life is the focal point of all other aspects of your life. What will it profit a leader when he climbs on the ladder of success, only to discover that the ladder was placed on the wrong wall? Such loss will be too much to bear, because he has to come down from the ladder and start all over again. It is the same when a leader, who concentrates only on his career, loses his wife to another man or his children to drugs. As important as a leader’s professional life is, his family life is much more important. Your personal life is the centre of your life and should be given attention. A leader who is keen on being successful in self management keeps charge of his personal life. Your personal life is a reflection of the values you hold dear, and these reflect in all other aspects of your life.

Self management determines how far the influence of a leader will extend from himself to those around him.

Photo credit: Hero Images/Corbis