In the contemporary world of business, leadership is growing more complex and flexible. The skills of a successful leader are linked to a broad scope of factors some of which people can inherit as aspects of their personalities and characters, and some can be learned and developed over time. The modern leaders build themselves, as most of the leadership abilities and skills can be obtained via practice and learning. As a result, such practices and lifelong learning, ongoing self-improvement, and self-reflection are known as extremely valuable for a good leader.
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One of the practices that have been gaining popularity among the contemporary leaders is personal mastery that is defined as a leader’s ability allowing them look deeply into their own level of self-development, professionalism, and reflect on the qualities that are used on a daily basis, as well as the ones required for the individual and professional growth (Senge, 2006). What defines the concept of personal mastery is the approach that all the key features, skills, and abilities, as well as the factors that define one’s performance and success as a leader, lie within their individual personality (Senge, Kleiner, Roberts, Ross, & Smith, 1994).
It can be noted that personal mastery is tightly connected to emotional maturity and intelligence of an individual because its major objective is to enable this person to look inwards with the highest degree of objectivity and be self-reflective and focused enough to acknowledge and recognize self-deception, fear, laziness, projection, and other factors that we sometimes use unconsciously to distract ourselves from the personal challenges we do not wish to handle (Senge et al., 1994).
Self-awareness fostered by personal mastery allows people who have developed the latter skill to be more successful at achieving their goals because they have a better understanding why these goals are the priorities and what has to be done for their accomplishment (Phillips & Baker, n.d.).
Personal mastery can be achieved via several different pathways (Cropper, 2014). In particular, these elements can be organized in a plan and work as separate elements contributing to one’s self-improvement as a leader.
When it comes to my top individual values, I think I must name self-awareness (or emotional intelligence) and intelligence as the primary ones. Also, in regard to interpersonal relations, I value integrity (or faithfulness) and compassion. Finally, as a value of a more global nature, I should name taking care of the world and people around. I chose to name values of different levels (personal, interpersonal, and global) because I believe that an individual (especially a leader) with a high level of personal mastery must always take into consideration the effects he or she can produce on multiple levels. In fact, I think that the repercussions of every action can go far beyond their personal space and make an effect on other individuals, groups, or even the society in general.
On a large scale, the point of my life (and I believe, it to be the pint of most people’s being in this world) – is the improvement of self that goes along the improvement of the world around. In particular, I noticed that happy people gravitate to healthy and nurturing choices whereas unhealthy and destructive behaviors are usually the indicators of people’s struggles in life. Accordingly, healthier choices always lead to the creation a happier world around oneself – such a person begins to desire to help others, spread happy environment, and include more people.
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In that way, I envision it as my purpose to transform myself into that nourishing and approving individual free from destructive intentions and thoughts and building a more beautiful environment around. Specifically, I want to start with my closest ones (family and friends) and better myself to be able to affect them positively – become a source of help and understanding practically and emotionally. In the future, I see myself as a guide, a tutor, or a coach of a larger group of people, a motivational speaker, and a leader who has answers. I would like to improve my ability to see deep within people and situations and thus analyze them better for the successful decision-making.
In order to bring myself closer to the goal of becoming a guide and a wise advisor to the people around on multiple levels, I believe I should focus on the development of such skills as critical thinking and emotional intelligence.
In my understanding, one of the most effective ways to stimulate the development of these skills is practice of thinking about and reflecting on the situations and phenomena that I usually struggle to understand or accept fully. The contemporary globalizing world is a place full of controversies and social norms or ideologies that I find significantly different from my views. I think it could be a great exercise to research some of these ideas and phenomena, learn about them with the intention to understand the perspectives of people that support and share them. It could help to participate in a debate or face people talking with whom I usually find difficult. These activities could be done for the purpose of strengthening my ability to control personal emotional reactions and let my logical mind be in change and not my feelings.
Summary/ Next Steps
Developing personal mastery is a lifelong process that requires constant attention and focus. However, the benefit is that it can be stimulated in a variety of ways and, along the way, helps boost the skills and abilities that are applied on a regular basis in the communication with friends, family, and colleagues.
The role of a leader does not end in the workplace but continues in personal life. A leader is not solely a person who stands at the head of a group and points to the right direction. A leader is a deep thinking person with a unique set of traits and skills allowing him or her generate more complex ideas based on a clearer vision of situations and people. A leader is someone on whom many people could rely not because he or she was the only one who agreed to take charge but because he or she is equipped to be in charge.
I see my next steps in the development of emotional intelligence and maturity with the help of critical thinking and analysis. I also believe that it would boost my confidence if I deliberately put myself in non-habitual situations and attempted to handle them applying my values, leadership strengths, and objectivity. I also plan to better myself at understanding people’s emotions and thought processes, which means I should think of taking courses in psychology and sociology.
Cropper, B. (2014). Personal Mastery – putting the ‘me’ in leadership. Web.
Phillips, S. & Baker, H. (n.d.). From terrorism response to software project management: The importance of personal mastery. Web.
Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and science of a learning organization. New York, NY: Currency/ Doubleday.
Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R. & Smith, B. (1994). The fifth discipline fieldbook: Strategies and tools for building a learning organization. New York, NY: Currency/ Doubleday.