How to be an inner winner

To be an effective leader of others, you need to know how to lead yourself explains Uwe Napiersky from Aston Business School.

Leadership is an art. It always was, and always will be. However, 21st century leadership is no longer only about the ability to lead others. The foundation for leading others is about being able to effectively lead yourself.

Self-leadership, simply put, is the ability to influence your ‘self’ to achieve your objectives.  As management guru Chris Argyris, who prepared the ground for the inward-looking leader development approach of modern times, said: “The door for development is locked from the inside”.

Looking inward is a way to observe your own way of functioning to learn what makes you tick. All individuals have their own inner lives, populated by their beliefs, priorities, aspirations, values and fears. These inner elements - the “inner theatre” - varies from person to person, leading them to take different actions.

Effective self-leadership

All human beings are self-leaders. But not all self-leaders are effective at self-leading. The good news is that self-leading capabilities can be improved. It is learnable.

Effective self-leadership starts with getting an understanding of your “thinking”, “doing” and “energising” self:

  • Thinking self: your style of reflectiveness
  • Doing self: your actions and behaviour, learning and performing
  • Energising self: your response to setbacks, your motivation and general positivity.
    • Specifically designed questionnaires, exercises and other tools based on business and sports psychology can help you map out your inner self and understand what might be getting in the way of achieving your goals.

      By using these self-learning questioning techniques you can gain a much better understanding about:

      • What exactly motivates you
      • What is your tangible vision
      • How you impact on others
      • What style you use to negotiate – both with yourself and with others
      • How you adjust to different situations and people.
        • Self-leadership leads to success

          A recent study identified that key aspects of self-leadership can predict educational success. The findings indicated that engaging in improved strategies for self-goal setting, self-management of behaviour and effort, being aware of one’s motivation and adopting a positive outlook have a tangible effect on academic attainment.

          Effective self-leadership strategies help to unlock your “inner winner” potential by giving you a greater degree of control over your personal development and enabling you to actively and consciously shape your own personal growth. The art of self-leadership is to synchronise and cultivate a reflective way of work and life.

          Dr Uwe Napiersky is an experienced business psychologist and learning architect and is the director of the Aston MBA Mindful Global Manager programme.

          You can study the Aston MBA Online. Find out more at