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The Challenge of Self-Leadership


To be effective, the transformational leader must first experience transformation in her own life. This begins with self-leadership. Self-leadership focuses on ”becoming” rather than ”doing.” The leader must pay careful attention to her personal health and development, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The goal is personal integrity, in which core values line up with attitudes and behavior. Your values make your leadership unique, inspirational, and worthy of being followed.

Integrity and sincerity are expected from today’s leaders. In fact, successful leadership depends more on the perception of your followers than upon your innate ability. In addition, the inward journey of godliness protects the leader from the negative influences that would lead her astray. In order to examine your personal life, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I confident of my calling?
  • Do I have a clear vision?
  • Am I leading with passion? What fuels that passion? What drains my energy and passion?
  • Is my character fully submitted to Christ?
  • Am I allowing my pride to affect ministry decisions?
  • Do I have emotional baggage that affects my decisions?
  • Am I listening to the Spirit?
  • Is my pace sustainable?
  • Am I growing in my desire for God and His Word?

Solomon in Ecclesiastes challenges us to ”ponder” or to ”consider”—to think about our lives. As leaders, we must be intentional about judging our motives and heart. To the extent that we pay attention to our inward thoughts and outward decisions, choosing to live in accordance with God’s Word, we become more and more like Christ. If we are not careful, however, we will allow the demands of leadership to cause us to become less responsive to God’s direction. We must take the time to consider our lives and ministry, giving God the opportunity to change us into His image.

Read Hebrews 2:1 and Ephesians 5:15-17.

Transformational leaders are empowered and seek to empower others. They throw themselves wholeheartedly into everything they do. For them, all of life is an opportunity to change and grow. They are focused and determined, and enjoy challenges and hard work. They don’t work hard because they have to, but because they understand the principle of Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

They bring out the best in others by demanding the best of themselves. They simply take people with them to a higher level of experience. Leadership demands making tough decisions and being willing to deal with the ambiguity that change brings. Leaders stretch their followers by setting goals that challenge women. To develop this ability, we must determine direction from within.

Self-leadership must discipline emotional intelligence. Simply put, emotional intelligence is the ability to deal with our own feelings appropriately and get along with others. This refers to qualities such as understanding our feelings, responding empathically to others, and controlling our emotions. Women with emotional intelligence are able to connect with others and understand how they feel. God’s Word has much to say about interaction between believers and those outside the church.

Read 1 Peter 3:8-9 and Ephesians 4:1-3.

Emotional intelligence is important because it affects how the leader treats women under her leadership. Volunteers act differently when they are doing different tasks or even during different stages of the same task. To be effective, leaders must be able to change their way of interaction as the task and felt needs change. The successful leader will continue to grow in the area of emotional intelligence.

Reflection Questions

What are one or two areas that need improvement?

What change do you need to make to improve in these areas?

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV.® COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984 BY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY®.

“Transformational Leadership” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, 2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.