It’s Hard to Lead People If You Manage Yourself Poorly

“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”- Lao Tzu

Leadership and productivity go hand in hand. Leaders who drive results while building cultures people want to be part of are worth their weight in gold. Those who don’t are a drain on businesses. Good leadership starts with good self leadership.

I’ve had many different managers during my working life. Fortunately, most of them have been good role models who I’ve learned a lot from. However, I’ve also had to report to the occasional manager who wasn’t very good.

The worst manager I ever had was very disorganised. Besides his messy desk, his meetings usually started and finished late, while priorities and last-minute demands would constantly change which caused us to have to work back late more often than could be reasonably expected. As a team, we were frustrated and placed under undue stress which led to many either leaving or developing a somewhat nonchalant attitude towards work.

He fobbed off this apparent weakness as being responsive. However, it was evident to all of us how he was just simply poor at self leadership. Colleagues would often remark: “He couldn’t even organise a pi#@up in a brewery if he tried!”

What’s the cost?

The saying goes that people don’t leave a company; they leave a manager. According to Gallup, 75% of workers resign due to things which their manager can influence. The financial impact of losing key staff is expensive. Data published in Employee Benefit News reported it costs businesses a whopping 33% of a worker's annual salary to hire a replacement!!!

Self leadership through the eyes of a productivity lens

The are 2 key areas where self leadership fails are when leaders are:

  • Disorganised – they can’t find things or don’t get to action work in a timely manner

  • Organised - but they don’t action their planned work when they should which causes them to become disorganised

The flow on effect is their team becomes too reactive to the most urgent demands. Over time, this wears thin on the more organised workers. If left to fester it can lead to engaged employees becoming disengaged. It’s why it’s critical for the leaders work methods to be underpinned by fundamental time management principles.

The best leaders I’ve worked for have:

  • Inspired me

  • Supported me to be the best version of myself

  • Created a calming environment due to their organised approach

  • Been transparent with the goals, plans, actions and progress

  • Solved problems as opposed to creating chaos

  • Built a culture that people have wanted to be a part of

It’s hard to lead people effectively if you can barely manage yourself. Good leaders start with being great at self leadership.