Self-leadership and self-care as a leader

Self-leadership and self-care are primarily a matter of personal responsibility and are becoming increasingly important for health. Leading oneself and others in a healthy way is one of the core competencies in the professional life of today’s leaders. It is a prerequisite for long-term health and performance.

What exactly does self-leadership and self-care mean?

In a time of permanent change, team members and managers have to cope with constantly increasing demands and a variety of challenges. Anyone who wants to be convincing and successful as a leader needs to focus first of all on themselves. An awareness of one’s own values, abilities, expectations and attitudes provides the necessary foundation for the acquisition of leadership competence. And only healthy leaders can do justice to their role and their responsibility towards their teams. Self-leadership often goes hand in hand with self-care. Self-care means having a mindful approach to looking after oneself, being aware of one’s own needs and giving them the necessary care and attention.

"Leadership begins with me."
Friedemann Schulz von Thun

What are the various aspects of healthy self-leadership?

1. Clarification of expectations and goals
Become aware of what you expect from yourself as a leader and reflect on what vision you stand for and what values you want to represent. This first step is complete when your team understands what expectations you have of them and what you value in working together. Also make sure you are clear about what your team members and colleagues, and even your own manager, expect of you.
2. Structure and organisation
Create structured work processes for yourself and organise your working hours. This includes ensuring a conscious start and end to the working day as well as healthy break management. Take regular and sufficient breaks and make sure that they are well organised and actually serve as a time to relax rather than just being an opportunity to answer a couple of e-mails.
3. Transparency regarding presence in the workplace and availability
Ensure transparency about when you’re going to be present in the workplace and your availability times. In terms of self-care, a clear agreement with your team members and colleagues regarding times when you are not available is also of great importance.
4. Exercise
Make sure you get enough exercise and integrate it into your daily work routine. For example, you could stand while making phone calls or do stretching exercises between meetings. Walks after work might help you to switch off.
5. Eat a healthy diet
Make sure you eat a varied and healthy diet. Drink water regularly to keep your metabolism balanced. This increases your concentration, and you will feel more energetic and productive.
6. Rest and relaxation phases
Stop and take time for yourself. Rituals before or after work can help. Meditation or relaxation exercises can also help you to strengthen your mindfulness and incorporate self-care into your everyday life.
7. Self-talk
Have a health talk with yourself once in a while. Reflect on your working day and your (self-)leadership skills and consciously take time for the points mentioned above.

Self-leadership and self-care start with self-reflection

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Take time for yourself
The prerequisite is to be self-aware. How are you doing? What do you need? Where are your limits? Schedule a time slot per week for self-reflection.
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Insights and learning progress
Keep in mind what went well this week, what gave you difficulties and what you learned.
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Record plans and goals
Write down in concrete terms what you want to do next week and what you want to change. What do you want to do more of or less of? What do you want to start or stop doing?
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Go into action
 
Self-care can take different forms. What is important is that it takes place regularly and that you put your intentions into practice, try things out and recognise what constitutes your personal self-care.

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