I’m thinking about the personal challenge of being a free agent. I work for myself, and I serve in a number of collaborations and independent contractor business relationships. I teach in a community college and speak in multiple gatherings under more than one umbrella, including my own.
But when I am not speaking or teaching, I work… alone. In a home office, with my Pandora Radio on and my iMac and my iPad. I see no one, I interact with no one, and I have to develop my own work approach — my own work schedule. I am in charge of strategy, execution, marketing, networking, content development, and anything/everything else for my own Me, Inc.
It’s likely that if you work in the public sector, then your experience is somewhat different than mine; but in reality, every one of us ultimately functions as a team of one. I teach that all persuasion is self-persuasion; all motivation is self-motivation.
Well, it is also a self-leadership world. We really do have to persuade and motivate and encourage and lead ourselves.
Here’s a wonderfully profound and simple line from the book The Inner Work of Leaders:
“Every person leads a team of one.”
So, the question is, “How do you lead yourself?”
If you think about leadership in general, you know the elements: a leader sets the agenda, does a little to a lot of overseeing of execution, coaches and encourages, and rewards and criticizes at just the right times in just the right ways. Leadership done right involves successful building of functional teams and provides correctives that are needed.
Let me make one very specific and practical suggestion: you need to schedule a weekly meeting with your leader — i.e., with yourself. That meeting is to go over what you would go over with any leader. Ask these questions:
- Am I doing what I need to do be doing with my time?
- Am I meeting with the people with whom I need to be meeting?
- Am I spending enough time in marketing and networking? (It is common wisdom that you have to do some actual marketing every day!)
- Am I successfully working on my short-term challenges and saving the right amount of time to work on long-term strategy?
- What am I not doing well, and what do I need to do to better and/or correct for greater success?
This list of questions is simply illustrative and can grow to be pretty long. But without that weekly meeting with your leader (you!), then these questions will go unanswered, and then forgotten.
So, are you having that weekly meeting with your leader/yourself? It may be time to take the job of leading yourself much more seriously.
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis
This is a great post! I am in the exact same situation, self employed, teach community college and juggle several clients at the same time. I appreciate the reminder to take time out to lead and manage myself!
Thanks for your comment, Jolaine! I’m glad this post helped you remember that.