You Have to Lead Yourself Before You Can Lead Others — How to Master the Art of Self-Leadership As entrepreneurs, we can get lost in the demands of the business and need to remember to take care of ourselves. However, self-care is crucial in self-leadership. When business leaders don't practice self-care, they become overwhelmed and burnt out, which means a decrease in productivity, creativity, and overall happiness.

By Roland Polzin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Self-leadership is about more than just being able to lead yourself. It involves taking care of yourself to optimize your personal and professional life, recognizing personal values and aligning them with business goals, organizing yourself, and being your best self.

Entrepreneurs are constantly on the go. Since we work long hours, we can get lost in the demands of the business and need to remember to take care of ourselves. However, self-care is crucial in self-leadership. When business leaders don't practice self-care, they become overwhelmed and burnt out, which means a decrease in productivity, creativity, and overall happiness.

Related: Why Self-Leadership is Essential to Your Success

Know yourself and your purpose

Becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions can be challenging, but with practice, it becomes easier. Meditation and journaling are tried and tested ways of becoming self-aware. By practicing meditation and writing down your thoughts, you can learn to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment, leading to greater self-awareness and insights into your behavior.

Once you have identified your values and purpose, you can align them with your business goals. This alignment leads to greater fulfillment and success in personal and professional life.

Related: 6 Ways Self-Leadership Can Help You Take Control of Your Life and Business

Take care of yourself

Leaders and entrepreneurs prioritizing their physical and mental health can perform at their best and lead more effectively. Self-care is not a luxury. Leaders and entrepreneurs who prioritize self-care set an example for their team and create a culture of well-being. Moreover, taking care of yourself leads to greater productivity, creativity, and resilience, allowing you to perform at your best.

When you ride a plane, one of the safety instructions is always "put your mask on first before helping others." The same is true in business. Leaders and entrepreneurs prioritizing their physical and mental health can better serve their teams and customers. Physical fitness means higher energy levels, reduced risk of illness, and better stress regulation. Regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate rest are the foundations of being physically fit.

Mental well-being is just as important as physical health. Leaders and entrepreneurs prioritizing mental health can better manage stress, think more clearly, and make better decisions.

There are many strategies for self-care, and it is essential to find what works best for you. For one, there are plenty of ways to keep fit — you can participate in team sports, lift weights at the gym or walk for a few miles during the day.

Healthy eating — planning meals and eating whole foods — is equally essential in keeping yourself healthy. Finally, getting enough sleep and scheduled downtime can help your stress management.

Stress is a part of life, and chronic stress can lead to burnout. Fortunately, business leaders prioritizing stress management can prevent burnout and maintain well-being.

Related: How Self-Leadership Can Help Move The Needle Forward On Your Vision And Goals

Organize yourself

Organized leaders manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks and make better decisions. By being organized, we set an example for our teams and create a culture of efficiency and effectiveness.

Setting goals can help you stay focused and motivated. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Once you have goals, you can create a schedule that helps you accomplish all your weekly tasks.

Prioritization is crucial for managing time effectively. You can prioritize tasks by assessing the urgency and importance of each task, delegating tasks when possible, and breaking down large tasks into smaller, manageable ones. Creating a schedule can help you manage your time effectively and avoid procrastination. You can create a schedule by blocking time for specific tasks, breaks, and even your leisure time.

Avoiding distractions is also vital. Distractions can derail productivity and waste time. You can prevent distractions by turning off notifications, setting aside time for specific tasks, and utilizing productivity tools like the Pomodoro technique.

Be your best self

Being your best self is a critical aspect of self-leadership. Leaders and entrepreneurs who strive to be their best selves can create a positive work environment, build strong relationships with their teams, and achieve their goals. Effective self-leaders possess certain qualities, like punctuality, honesty, openness, and consistency. These qualities are essential for developing a high-trust relationship with teams since they make you predictable as a leader: Being punctual demonstrates respect for others' time and shows a commitment to professionalism. Meanwhile, honesty and openness will prove that you have no hidden agenda and everyone is on the same page. Finally, consistency in behavior and decision-making builds a stable work environment without negative surprises.

Finally, supporting team members can create a culture of positivity and productivity. Leaders and entrepreneurs should provide resources, guidance, and feedback to team members when necessary. This goes both ways, though—building a support system of mentors, peers, and friends provides a positive feedback loop of guidance, motivation, and continuous learning.

Self-leadership is a habit

Self-leadership is not a one-off activity but a habit needing consistent practice. It is also crucial for optimizing your personal and professional life. Practicing self-care, knowing yourself and your purpose, organizing yourself, and being your best self are all essential components of self-leadership. By making self-leadership a habit, leaders and entrepreneurs can increase their productivity, creativity, and overall happiness, leading to more success in their personal and professional lives.

Wavy Line
Roland Polzin

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder & CMO

As a former German Army officer, I made the unusual decision to become a tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. My background provides me with a unique perspective on leadership, decision-making, and change management, and I hope to help others drive change and progress for the better.

Editor's Pick

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

Oscar Mayer Is Changing the Name of Its Iconic Wienermobile

The company is slamming the brakes on its wiener on wheels and rolling out a new meaty ride.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.


Take Your Social Media Earning Potential Sky-High With This $79.97 Quadcopter

Get this beginner-friendly drone for a great price for Father's Day.

Health & Wellness

Sleep Better, Snore Less, and Stay Cool with This Tech-Packed Pillow, Now $49.99

Let technology help you sleep better with this 8-in-1 cooling pillow.