Much like the lighthouse that provides guidance and direction for sea-bearing vessels, leaders must become the beacon of light in their own lives before they can effectively lead others.

As we have come to learn, true leadership is not about a title or a position in an organization. Nor is it about a person’s genetic make-up, level of education or socio-economic status. Leadership is a way of being. Effective leaders are those who lead by a set of core values that reflect who they want to be in the world as well as the contribution that they want to make. These leaders show up in all endeavors as the same person guided by the same principles. They lead with integrity, passion and an unresolved commitment to making a difference in the lives of those they touch. This to me is truly leading from within. As author Kevin Cashman says in his book, Leadership From The Inside Out, “Who we are says as much about us as a leader as the act of leading itself.”

The following steps are critical in leading from within:

Leaders need to first identify their core values, purpose and personal leadership visions. These three components together form the road map which guide and direct leaders on a daily basis and in all facets of their lives. Once identified, leaders can then transform these foundational principles into their values, purpose and leadership visions at work.

The next step involves creating accountability and support around these important principles. To do this, it is critical for leaders to share their values, purpose and visions with those around them, whether at work or at home. By enrolling people in this process, leaders are able to not only create a support system for themselves, but also creates a feedback loop that empowers people to let them know when they have gotten away from their visions.

It is vitally important for leaders’ everyday actions to be in alignment with their values, purpose and personal leadership vision. Being inconsistent or “ho hum” about their vision will very quickly sabotage any previous efforts made towards self-improvement. Inconsistency can also breed distrust, both internally and externally. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for leaders to consistently show up as the person they have declared themselves to be.

Leadership development is an ongoing process that involves a continuous improvement plan. Continuous improvement could involve seeking out feedback on a regular basis or taking skill-based classes and workshops. Leaders need to revisit their personal leadership vision bi-annually and make any necessary revisions. The point is that continuous improvement is a never-ending component of personal leadership. Remember, when leaders stop learning, they also stop growing.

Finally, leaders must hold themselves accountable. They can accomplish this by creating three powerful questions that they can ask themselves on a daily basis. These questions provide the ongoing awareness and self-assessment to keep their values, purpose and visions in the forefront at all times. For example:

1. What did I do today to demonstrate my commitment to my values, purpose and vision?

2. What did I learn about myself today that will help me become a better leader tomorrow?

3. How do I need to show up tomorrow to make a difference with those I come in contact with?

The five steps above can assist leaders in becoming leaders in their lives and not just in the workplace. It is important to remember that leadership is not about a switch that gets turned on or off but rather about how a person shows up in the world.

Author's Bio: 

Greg Giesen is president of Greg Giesen & Associates, Inc., a personal empowerment and leadership development company. Greg specializes in leadership developement, keynote speaking, conflict mediation, teambuilding and personal growth coaching. Greg has written two books on Creating Authenticity and is also a faculty member at the University of Denver.