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New leadership starts with self-leadership – 5 habits to practice & lead as your best

If leadership had a story to tell, what would it be? Is it, to be a great leader, follow the lead of those who’ve come before you demonstrating what success looks like and you’ll be successful? Or would it be to be a leader, you need to work yourself into the ground to build a successful business? 

There are plenty of stories that tell you the look of leadership (a dated one I’d add), each experience being different yet share a common theme. Leaders falling flat on their ass in order to wake up, take a step back and re-evaluate what’s important.

Let me break it down. 

These are the leaders that prioritized external growth, numbers, opportunities (the ones that led to more $$) without so much as realizing the impact it would have on them personally until they burnt out.

Until they realized to achieve further success, they needed to re-evaluate the ways of working that were not only going to allow them to be successful (again) but that was sustainable. 

That’s no longer the story of what new leadership looks like in the future. More and more awareness is being created around the importance of investing in personal growth.

Not because we’ve read about leaders like Warren Buffet and Jeff Weiner who’ve shared examples of how they spend their time, but because those who invest in themselves like it’s their job just make better leaders.

Your leadership potential will pay in spades based on the habits you develop and the investment you make in your own self-management whether you sit in the C suite or are an entrepreneur. 

From increased self-awareness, more mental clarity, cognitive agility, increased productivity and more.

It’s what sets you apart from average leaders and the leaders we need tomorrow.

You also see the difference with those who do prioritize themselves (in the best way possible) and give their best to everyone and everything else. Their family, their business and their people.

Often, I find clients don’t know where to start when it comes to self-management and personal growth, especially as it relates to what it looks like day to day in a busy schedule.

Here are 5 habits to consider and start implementing today:

  1. Make time to self-reflect: 

“Problems are like plants; you’ve got to get to the roots to prevent them from popping up again.”

– Brian G. Jett

Our minds need to be nourished and excavated regularly! You gotta get underneath the hood to make a real, sustainable impact in your external world.

This means, taking time to deeply reflect whether it’s to create space to approach problems from a different lens or simply to reflect on bigger questions about life (or anything important to us). 

This is not quite the same thing as just thinking about something while multi-tasking, but truly creating room and time in your schedule to put pen to paper for self-reflection. 

Making time for self-reflection in your schedule should be a part of the time you account for in your week! Not an afterthought or only when you need to. Schedule it to make it real.

2. Make time for self-replenishment and nourishment

What are the activities that fill your cup up? 

You wouldn’t water a green lawn and leave the garden around it to die or be neglected? The same is true for YOU. Take care of yourself holistically vs. looking at yourself as interdependent pieces where some parts of you get 80% of your time and others get maybe 10%.

This could mean doing activities for sheer enjoyment and pleasure, working out, getting a massage, doing volunteer work, whatever activity that makes you feel nourished in some way. What brings you joy? Do that and do it regularly!

3. A week in review

We often arrive at the end of our days thinking, where did the time go and what did I accomplish? Sometimes it’s clear as a whistle other times, it’s a blur. 

I use this tool with clients to help them capture their week in a meaningful way. Sometimes, we forget how much we get done and, it’s not until we note all the activity big and small that add up to a productive week.

It invites you to reflect – yes, again! Some questions might be:

  • What did you set out to get done this week? How did you do? (pick your top 3 goals for the week)
  • What are you grateful for that did AND did NOT happen? (I like to look at both for perspective – there’s always a lesson when things don’t go as planned)
  • Who did you help if anyone?
  • What opportunities stand out?

Questions that foster deeper reflection help you thoughtfully look at your week and also offer perspective. There’s more than one purpose here!

4. Make time to learn (and don’t stop)

How can you bring the mindset of the student to the way you lead? 

A lifelong student is one whose openness to learning is never-ending. There’s an appetite to increase knowledge and expand their thinking. 

Not just on subjects they may know best but taking an interest in multiple subjects that can support their growth. As a leader, whether it’s reading books or listening to podcasts, how do you ensure you’re proactively learning? 

Dare to venture outside your industry and business and carve out time to keep learning.

5. Bring intentionality to your day

As a leader, with the competing priorities you have on any given day, time is of the essence and being intentional with it can help you use it wisely.

Recently Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan said he experienced Zoom fatigue after having 19 Zoom meetings in a row in one day! Absurd, I know.

Somehow, organizations are still endorsing a culture where the more you can cram in a day, the more you can get done, but it doesn’t work. It also leads to exhaustion, increased stress and a lack of focus.

Bringing intentionality in your day, especially in your meetings, allows for the *important* things to get done while saving you time.

This also serves as an opportunity to lead by example if you can show your team that being more intentional with meetings AND your day overall allows for higher levels of engagement, more focus and increased productivity.

Time management is vital here and, being crystal clear on what priorities are important to you to be intentional.

New leadership takes pride in their growth in ways that we’ve never seen before. These suggestions are not an exhaustive list but certainly, a start to help you be a more effective leader by catering to the most important relationship you have – the one you have with yourself.

It’s when leaders take the time to invest in themselves, their development and their growth that they can effectively do so with the people around them. That’s what leading by example looks like.

In action, it’s the above ideas that turn into daily habits, one built upon the other that lead to incredible growth.

I work on myself to be my best, so I can give you my best.

I’d love to know in the comments, as a leader, what do you do to invest in your personal growth? Which of the above 5 ideas resonate?

Remember, taking one small step today, could be the most important step you take along your leadership journey!

With enormous love,



Lisa De Nicola

Lisa De Nicola is a Leadership & Executive Coach and an Intuitive who believes in magic. She partners with bold leaders to elevate and enhance their leadership and pave a new way of leading while keeping their values intact. With 15 + years of corporate experience working in the world of talent for multi-national, global organizations, Lisa shares her expertise in leadership, business and spiritual practices with leaders who are looking to transform the way they lead from the inside out. She inspires leaders to look at traditional leadership methods and bring more innovative and creative ideas to life.

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