May 1, 2019

Lead yourself to inspire change and learning

Mention the word “leadership”, and a few things come to mind. It could refer to you or a colleague heading up a specific project, your boss, the directors and senior executives of the organization, or even the leader of our country. All those people have something in common: the people they must lead toward a common vision and goal.

Leadership is a vast topic and can be approached in many different ways. It has been explored by many renowned psychologists, professors and even business leaders such as Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, and Joel Kurtzman.

From the many concepts of leadership, management theorists Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard developed a leadership model, where leadership style is adjusted depending on each individual’s situation or a particular goal or task.

Many people assume that there is a one-way approach to leadership and that there is one single effective way to lead yourself and others. But the truth, as Hersey and Blanchard concluded, is that leadership is adjusted based on each person’s goal, situation, and motivation for achieving that goal.

One other truth about leadership is that you don’t need to have subordinates or people directly reporting to you to show leadership. This brings us to a concept from Hersey and Blanchard – self-leadership. Leadership is a skill set that we all need in order to progress in today’s world and to position ourselves to excel in the future, and here are the reasons why.

First, leadership is about being able to lead yourself and push yourself through the boundaries your mind has set up. A leader’s duty is to lead and inspire people, but they cannot force everyone to be all-in. A leader needs to be able to engage people, but each individual also needs to be able to engage himself or herself with the projects and tasks at hand.

Additionally, traits that are normally associated with leaders can also be associated with a person without a team who reports to him or her. This is because leadership traits aren’t just useful in being able to manage a team; they are also useful in being able to self-manage, self-motivate and take the lead on your own tasks and in collaboration with others.

Second, as an individual, you need the mindset and skill set of a leader to become effective in your own projects and tasks. Even if you don’t have a team to lead, you still need to collaborate with others in the team or organization to achieve goals. In this sense, we still need to be able to lead others if required.

With that in mind, leadership among peers isn’t about being bossy or taking control over everything, it’s about being able to make decisions together, learning to be accountable and being able to lead towards an agreed direction.

Third, regardless of your position or job, leadership allows you to manage yourself. In addition to becoming more accountable or better at collaboration, individuals who adopt leadership in their lives aren’t just able to manage their own tasks and collaborate better, they’re able to manage their learning and development — an important aspect in career and business growth.

As we graduate from university and enter the workforce, many of us assume that our learning has ended. But learning never ends. In some cases, we take part in training and workshops that the organization offers. But in the modern, fast-changing world, we can’t wait for the next training session to take advantage of learning. If we truly want to succeed, learning shouldn’t ever stop.

Individuals can be leaders in their own self-development and career growth. Learning isn’t always easily accessible, nor do we always have unlimited time to set aside for learning. We must be able to self-lead toward finding the channels for learning and set aside the appropriate amount of time for it.

In this day and age, we cannot wait for opportunities to come our way. As individuals, we must make those opportunities and lead ourselves to a better future. At the end of the day, whether you’re a business owner, an employee or a fresh graduate, instilling leadership in ourselves makes us great individuals who can achieve greater things.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at