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Theories of Self Leadership

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 1882 words Published: 6th Dec 2017

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Self leadership is normally defined as a process whereby individuals are able to control their own behavior and at the same time lead and influence others to follow them (Neck, 2006). The individuals are able to use several behavioral strategies to empower and lead others. They also use several skills to attain self influence, self motivation and also achieve a certain self direction that is necessary to undertake the leadership process. Individuals who strive to become self leaders need to have certain competencies such as self awareness, tolerance, adaptability, emotional resilience, self reflection or assessment among others.

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One needs to identify the growth experiences that exist and that can lead to development or provide support when one is carrying out the leadership process (Rothstein, 2010). In this context self reflection or self assessment in self leadership are held to be important practices when it comes to human resource development. This paper discusses and critiques self assessment within the context of self leadership and discusses the implications on contemporary human resource practice. It also gives recommendations on further research that can be done on self assessment in self leadership.

Literature Review

Several studies have been carried out in regard to self leadership. Christopher Neck (2006) defines it as the process of controlling one’s behavior and at the same time leading and influencing others to follow the individual. To back up this definition Mitchell Rothstein (2010) puts it that the individual self leader needs to identify experiences for growth which they need to take advantage of so that they become better leaders and influence others to follow them. Mitchell also adds that the self leaders need to understand and examine themselves before they can undertake the task of leading others. Robert Lussier and Christopher Achua have discussed self assessment in the leadership context defining it as the process through which individuals review and gauge their performance for the purpose of improving their leadership performance. Authors Rajnandini Pillai and Susan Stites have however brought to light the drawbacks of self assessment in self leadership and human resource practices among them that the assessment instills too much confidence on the self leaders when they get a high score. The high score according to the two authors does not mean that the leader has effective leadership skills.

David Andrew and Leanne Atwater on the other hand identify the 3600 Feedback method as one of the self assessment methods that can be used in organizations as part of human resource development practices. The method leads to an improvement of the performance of the organization and its members. Rothstein also adds to the discussion by highlighting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator method as a practice that can be used to improve the organization and impact the human resource practice. In light of the perspectives brought by the different authors on self assessment in self leadership and the impact on contemporary human resource practices, this paper adequately matches up to the discussion.


Self Assessment

Self assessment is the process through which an individual is able to review and systematically gauge their own performance for the sole purpose of improving their own performance. The individual carries out the review on their own identifying their weaknesses and strengths as well as their own skills and level of knowledge (Lussier & Achua, 2009). From the results of the assessment the individual is then can identify the areas and the need for development of their skills and abilities.

Review and Critique of Self Assessment

Self assessment when used strategically in self leadership and human resource development it can not only increase the motivation and the engagement of the leader but it also helps to pinpoint the areas the individual needs to develop and improve. It can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the development process as well as increase the ability of the individual to make decisions based on his self leadership role (Rothstein, 2010). The process of self assessment involves the use of various activities such as self study using workbooks, identifying capabilities and other preferences.

Self assessment is best done as a continuous process where an individual can explore their values, interests, personal resources, goals and decision making styles as a leader. Advantages of using workbooks and other materials to carry out the self study include the fact that these materials are developed by third parties who are experts and very experienced in the field (Werner & DeSimone, 2008). However modifications can be done to suit the style of the leader and the needs of the individual leader. These methods of self assessment are also well structured in a way that allows the individual to easily understand and one is also able to perform the assessment on their own at their own pace and time.

Other advantages of the self assessment process in self leadership include the fact that the results of the assessment give the individual a sound basis for the decisions, goals and strategies that they set. The goals and strategies made are very effective and efficient in the self leadership role (Werner & DeSimone, 2008). However the self assessment process does have its disadvantages when it comes to self leadership and how it is carried out. One major disadvantage that is identified once the self assessment is carried out includes the fact that the individuals are prone to confuse a high score on the self assessment with self leadership effectiveness (Pillai & Stites, 2003). Self assessment models can be complicated and this also confuses the individuals taking the test. Attributes that are needed in a certain situation in the model may be used on some of the universal self leadership quality situations and be appropriate in the different contexts thereby depicting unintended results (Pillai & Stites, 2003).

Implications of Self Assessment for Contemporary Human Resource Practice

3600 Feedback

This is one of the methods that are used as part of the human resource development practices to effectively improve the performance of the leaders and lead to an improvement of the performance of the organization (Waldman & Atwater, 1998). It is considered to be a starting point in the journey of self discovery and self assessment. It helps empower the individual in the face of negative feedback as well as positive feedback. In areas where the feedback is different from the perceptions of the individual, the differences provide an insight to the individual on the impact of their behavior and actions on others.

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The method is beneficial in the human resource practice in that it allows for the involvement of other employees in the organization. Their input to the organization is valued as they contribute to the future of the organization and their future. The Federal Express organization uses this kind of system to evaluate their managers (Waldman & Atwater, 1998). The Survey Feedback Action program (SFA) puts the philosophy of the employees first as they give their feedback on the performance of their managers and leaders. The method also improves the communication between the leaders and the employees as it facilitates the communication between the two. Organizations are also able to empower their culture as well as holding the managers accountable for their actions.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

This is a self report in form of a questionnaire that is concerned with the perception and judgment of the individual. It also seeks to measure the personal preferences, communication patterns, decision making skills, the thinking style and the leader’s orientation with other people (Rothstein, 2010). The method of self assessment has several benefits which include the identification of the weak and strong areas of individuals. It also clarifies the behavior of the managers and the leaders as well as helping the individuals understand different methods and perspectives when solving different problems.

It also aims to maximize the benefits and the diversity of leaders as well as the subordinates and helps them to reach more insightful and useful decisions. Through integrating and offering interactive challenges, the approach offers the entire team of the leaders and the employees a chance to generate greater understanding and insights for the development of the entire organization (Johnson, Mauzey, Johnson, Murphy, & Zimmerman, 2001). The method is also known to resolve conflicts within organization and also create a lasting impact among the employees and their leaders in the organization. The approach also bears the benefit of helping individuals to understand themselves better regardless of their personality type or their personal traits.

Recommendations for Future Research

A lot of study has been done on self assessment in self leadership and the impact on human resource practices. Most of the authors have focused on the role of the self assessment in self leadership and how it can be used to improve the performance of the organization and the leaders. While all these approaches and study is important and very beneficial, much more research is needed on the different methods that leaders and individuals can use to assess themselves on their leadership skills and attributes. This will help to bring in some light on the issues that leaders are likely to face as they undertake the assessment and the emerging changes that are occurring in the environment. Research is also needed on the different characteristics and attributes that the self assessments try to highlight and identify. The individuals also tend to use different sources of data to help them to identify their strong and weak areas as well as their development needs. Research should also focus on the different sources of data that the individuals use when carrying out the self assessments and the important role that they all play in the development process.


Self leadership is considered an important process in the corporate world today. For one to be a leader in any organization, one needs to portray self leadership skills. One of the primary elements of self leadership is self assessment. This element helps the individuals to understand themselves better and to highlight the personality, behavior, skills, talents, strengths and weaknesses among other attributes that help an individual to carry out the self leadership role effectively. The self assessment is carried out with an aim of improving oneself and also enforcing a leader to embrace their individualism. Leaders need to be supported to bring out the best in themselves in order for them to take the organization forward. The self assessment should be followed with a learning process to develop a culture and a practice that will benefit the organization and members of the organization as well.


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