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Becoming a leader through personal mastery

There has been so much written about leadership being from the ‘inside out,’ and I absolutely agree. What is Personal Mastery when we are talking about becoming a leader and why does it matter?

Personal mastery is leading from the inside out…2 Personal mastery is about a leaders’ ability to tune into themselves and be more mindful of the impact their patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving have on the people and situations that surround them as well as the results they get.

Personal mastery is a set of specific principles and practices that enables a person to learn, create a personal vision, and view the world objectively, but it is so much more than that, just like leadership it is not simply something people do. It comes from a deeper reality within us. It comes from our values, traits, principles, life experiences, beliefs, motives, and essence of character. It is the standards of excellence that we make a choice to live by.

It is actively making a commitment to ourselves to put under a microscope where we are limiting and deceiving ourselves, and in the end impacting on our capacity to achieve the outcomes we believe we desire or the results we achieve.

So, what questions do we need to ask ourselves in uncovering our own personal vision?

What are values? An emotional state we want to have on a consistent basis.

Merriam Webster notes that values are “something (such as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable.” Just as important to your values is your attitude. Attitudes are combination of your values and beliefs. For example, if you value consistency you will have a belief that you can take action consistently and achieve the results you want. Values can be a driving force when making decisions. If I say, I am consistently working on my business. I will consider this when something distracts me, or I start to make excuses. I always ask myself – Is the decision I am making right now, in alignment with my values?

There are some key practices that are required to personal mastery in leadership:

1. Take 100% Responsibility:

As we increasingly assume responsibility for the life we are creating, we are prepared to assume responsibility for leading and serving others. The foundation of authentic, value-creating leadership is built with self-leadership, self-responsibility, and self-trust.

2. Be consciously aware of your own beliefs that drive your behaviour:

Beliefs are the operating system underpinning your leadership behaviours.

3. Develop an awareness of your qualities as a leader, and your coping mechanisms:

1 Instead of overinvesting in Coping, commit your energies to leading with Character. Doing so requires that you courageously examine the beliefs, fears, and limitations generating the qualities of Coping. Facing these limiting filters will free up energy to experience new learning from the outside and to express new potential from within. Be abundant with Character and very selective with Coping.

4. Be open to taking risks and being vulnerable:

Practice the strength of vulnerability; notice how it opens up relationships and teams. Practice sharing your genuine thoughts, feelings, joys, successes, concerns, and fears with people. Let your openness be the catalyst to open up the culture around you.

5. Listen to feedback:

1 Personal Mastery involves a delicate, discerning reconciliation of openness to learning from others while evolving our authentic core. Sometimes others shine a light to things you were not aware of or things you need to learn.

6. Get yourself a mentor or coach:

Having a coach as your partner during your growth process might be the most “right” thing you ever do. You might be pleasantly surprised to know how much an objective, experienced coach can accelerate your personal and leadership progress. Coaching can free self-awareness and facilitate some helpful directions for growth.

As a leader of personal mastery, it is a must for leaders to create an organization where it is safe for people to create visions, where inquiry and commitment to the truth are the norm, and where challenging the status quo is expected—especially when the status quo includes obscuring aspects of current reality that people seek to avoid. If you do this, your colleagues will know that they are working for an organisation that values personal growth and they know that will be given every opportunity to express and demonstrate this.

So what would you likely see, if you were leading from personal mastery:

· They have their own person vision, and yet are committed to creating and leading from their values to create results for all.

· They self-reflect and demonstrate self-awareness. They understand how their feelings and behaviours impact on self and others.

· They demonstrate self-management.

· They develop their thinking and have a mindset that shifts to create better outcomes for themselves and others.

· They are clear on their values within their personal lives and in business and they use these values to propel them forward in their decisions and directions for themselves and others.

· They know, what their purpose in life is…both individually and in business. They have a vision for both.

· They have the capacity to view a situation from all sides. They speak last. They connect with others and value their viewpoints before having an opinion.

· They are not committed to being right, they place a high value on learning from others and to create change to build a dynamic culture.

· They are open to feedback and are open minded to changing what others see, for the benefit of themselves and others.

· They ask themselves better questions and display behavioural flexibility and question their assumptions.

· They understand the importance of interconnecting systems and how they impact, enhance, and contribute to their business.

How to lead from personal mastery:

· Spend time understanding your personal and business values.

· Ensure your team are living the vision of the business.

· Reflect on how your behaviours impact on others you work with.

· Manage yourself and your time effectively.

· Be solution focussed, not problem focussed.

· Value other people’s perspectives and opinions before you put forward your views.

· Question what the culture is within your organisations.

· There is no failure, only feedback. How do you give and receive feedback?


1. Cashman, K. 2017. Leadership from the Inside out. Berrett-Koehler Publisher inc. USA.

2. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (Century business) (p. 8). Random House. Kindle Edition.

3. Cropper, B.


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