Leadership is commonly used to refer to activities such as conducting; guiding; or directing people, groups, or movements; or initiating activity. However, leadership is also used to refer to someone who is a leader in the field, a leading contender, a community leader, or leading a full life. How then can leadership be applied in so many different ways and what constitutes a leader in all of these situations? The answer is contained in the realization that perhaps the most fundamental characteristic of leadership, and therefore of leaders, is personal leadership.
What is personal leadership? It is the ability to lead — others, yourself, and the direction you want your life to take. The ability to define what you want out of life and how you’re going to get it is the first step in developing leadership. It’s only the beginning because personal leadership means “leading,” “directing,” “taking action.” It means living each day to the fullest. It means developing goals that you want so badly that you live each day with enthusiastic ardor for your goals, yourself, and all who are close to you. Knowing what you want out of life; knowing what success is to you; knowing what your goals are; and knowing that you’re going to achieve those goals regardless of what other people say, think, or do, is the essence of personal leadership.
Personal leadership also means “accountability.” It means that you have decided to use the talents that are unique to you and will develop them further to reach your goals. It means that you realize that you have the potential to develop further. It means that you have determined the course of your destiny - you are the master of your life. You alone can define what you want your destiny to be. Once you’ve decided what you want, you must consciously and actively establish your goals to realize that destiny. When you have made this decision, you do indeed possess personal leadership. Problems become challenges, failure becomes a setback (and more importantly a learning experience), and each day of your life becomes exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Success becomes a way of living, a second nature expectation that comes true daily as you achieve success along the way. You possess the kind of self-confidence that insures the successful outcome of any goal you set for yourself.
Never before in our history has there been more opportunity - or more need for leadership. Every day in countless unseen cases, people are looking to you for leadership. Children, friends, peers, co-workers, customers, and many times organizations look to you for leadership. Not formal leadership necessarily. Personal leadership is leadership by example. Formal leadership is merely an outgrowth of the confident, determined, “solution-oriented” tendencies of internal personal leadership. While personal leadership requires no formal setting, formal leadership is possible only by a person who has developed personal leadership. All of these reasons, and more, convince us that each of us should work to develop our own personal leadership skills.