When it comes to being a leader, you will find that there is always one person that is super difficult to lead. You know the person that I am referring to, they have their own set of rules to abide by, they seem to have their own agenda, and worst of all they sometimes use the art of manipulation to get things done. The question is how do you lead this type of person?

Well, the first step in leading this type of team member is to have the ability to recognize and admit that this person is you. That’s right, you, the hardest person to lead is yourself.

I have read many blogs and books on the subject of leading yourself. Many will say that if you can lead yourself then you can’t lead anyone. Some have said that you can’t lead others where you refuse to go. Or, you can’t lead others in areas where you refuse to serve.

Just think about it for a moment, if you are trying to lead a team and they are always late or they value the goals that you are trying to reach. Could it be that you do not value being on time, or that you do not place the goals as a high priority? A leader that just dictates rules and quotes goals does not end up leading a strong team.

I had a chance to interview a pastor recently about his feelings on leadership. His statement affirmed this art of leading yourself. He told me that he can not expect his congregation to do things that he is not willing to do himself. It is for this reason that every mission trip, every time there is an event that he asks the congregation to participate in, he is there. “After all, if I am not willing to do it why would they be willing to do it?”

I also have had the opportunity to be on a team where an admirable vision and great goals were presented to the team. The goals were tough but achievable. The vision had a value that all the team felt necessary, and the results, if we were successful, would benefit others along with each team member. There was one problem while the leader agreed with the vision and agreed that the goals were necessary for the team’s success, they did not want to be part of the project. They even tried to lead, manage, from the sideline. This lack of leadership caused some of the team members to lose interest in the project. While others might have worked hard at their tasks, the lack of interest from the leader caused the entire team to fail.

So, how do we overcome this hurdle and learn to lead this independent person? In all of the blogs and books that I have read, I think it comes down to a few core principles.

First, only lead in the areas where you are passionate. Do not take on any role of leadership in an area that your heart is not fully behind. Passion is not something that you can fake, your team will see it and if you are not passionate, they will follow your example. You can not train passion.

Next, your example is your greatest tool. A great army follows their commander into battle. That same army might follow orders from headquarters but following an order is not the same as fighting for a cause. The soldier that is only following orders is more likely to abandon his post when the times get tough. The soldier that is fighting alongside their commander will be less likely to turn and run as they see their leader in the same battle.

While there are many other principles, there is one that is a must. You must live by the standards that you set. If you want your team to be on time, then you be on time. If you want your team to dress appropriately, then you must dress that way. It is not the standards that you say that are followed; it is the standards that you live by. In the words of the great Michael Jackson, “I’m starting with the man In the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways, and no message could have been any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place, take look at yourself and make a change.”

This week’s experiment is to evaluate how you are leading yourself. Are there things that you need to change so that you can become a better follower? Are there principles that you need to become more focused? Most importantly, are there areas that you are not passionate about where you need to surrender the leadership to someone more passionate? Well then, make that change!