Defining & Implementing Successful Self-Leadership Strategies at Work

An empowered employee is a contributing employee.  When empowered employees are skilled at implementing Self-leadership strategies they create a more cohesive, productive, and engaged workforce. Too often though,  it’s a lofty pie-in-the-sky idea that is hard to nail down into actionable strategies. Which is exactly why in this article, I’m outlining three actionable Self-leadership strategies, the driving force or intrinsic motivator behind each, and how they measurably benefit your employees and your business.

3 Types of Self-Leadership Strategies

Leaders who behave in ways consistent with their values and beliefs are authentic and tend to attract team members who are also authentic. By learning how to lead themselves, leaders can then empower others to lead.

Self-Leadership Strategy

Intrinsic Motivators Measurables


Pattern-guided, cognitive thinking Individual goal performance
Reward-focused Drivers and desires

Self confidence; self motivation; job performance

Behavior-focused Values alignment

Job satisfaction; team performance

Thought-Focused Self-leadership Strategy

To be thought-focused means looking at how thinking patterns are created and maintained. A thought-focused strategy teaches us to identify and replace false Self- assumptions and limiting beliefs with forward-focused, high-energy thoughts. These new thoughts then create new mental imagery for future success. These more positive beliefs & thoughts [i.e. positive Self talk] lead to more positive emotions that help us shift toward more productive behaviors which lead to goal attainment. (Think: The Little Engine That Could)

To be thought-focused means constructing positive thought patterns and habitual ways of thinking that help improve performance. You must examine your thought patterns, confront and replace dysfunctional or limiting beliefs and assumptions with more constructive ways of thinking. Your beliefs about yourself (and your employees’ about themselves) as well as everyone’s beliefs about your culture influence your outcomes. To ensure your results are positive & profitable it’s imperative to master your mindset.

When you carefully analyze self-talk patterns, you are intentionally suppressing or eliminating negative or pessimistic thoughts and replacing them with more optimistic self-dialogue. To be successful at work and in life, your team members want to create an effective and encouraging mental state. Negative mental imagery appears when there is no environmental input or examples of success that negate the thoughts running rampant in the brain. To combat these thoughts answer the question, “What does success look like?” when assigning a task.

Individuals who are taught to envision the successful performance of an activity in advance of actual performance are more likely to perform successfully when faced with the actual task.

Reward-Focused Self-leadership Strategy

To achieve something, you must be inspired. This strategy is intended to create situations in which a person is motivated or rewarded by inherently enjoyable aspects of a task or activity.

There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is the result of externally administered motivators, like:

  • Pay, bonuses, and material rewards
  • Benefits
  • Promotions
  • Positive evaluation by others

Intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that is activated by personal enjoyment, interest, pleasure and purpose. Motivation comes from within a person and positively affects behavior and performance.

Intrinsic motivation can be facilitated by:

  • Building more pleasant and enjoyable aspects or characteristics into an activity so that it becomes naturally rewarding
  • Shaping perceptions by focusing attention away from the unpleasant parts of a task and refocusing it on the task’s inherently rewarding aspects
  • Focusing on the rewarding outcome/impact from excellent service
  • Feeling a significant sense of purpose and contribution

These strategies create feelings of competence and self-determination—two primary mechanisms of intrinsic motivation—which enhance performance.

The benefits of implementing a reward-based strategy for your team are:

  • Competence – The feeling of enjoyment while doing an activity.
  • Self-control – The feeling of being in control of your surroundings, commitments, and contributions.
  • Sense of purpose – The feeling that you are accomplishing your destiny.

Behavior-Focused Self-leadership Strategy

A behavior-focused Self-leadership strategy encourages one to be more self-aware, discovering why they engage in certain behaviors. Self-awareness is a necessary step toward eliminating ineffective and unproductive behaviors.

In the business sense, an individual’s self-awareness must be in alignment with the organization’s values for behavior-focused Self-leadership to work. So, how can we influence positive and productive behaviors?

Behavior-focused strategies may include:

  • Self-observation: Encourage your team to employ an awareness practice turning attention inward, and nonjudgmentally watching what you think, feel, and do.
  • Goal setting: Help your team set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that motivate them.
  • Self-reward: Determine incentives for personal accomplishments to increase motivation.
  • Self-regulating: Using appropriate methods to switch from “bad” habits to habits of excellence
  • Self-cueing: Use pictures, notes, lists, a software program, a screensaver, or even voice prompts as a tangible reminder to complete tasks.

Using a behavior-focused Self-leadership strategy helps to suppress negative, undesirable behaviors that lead to unsuccessful outcomes.

What’s the Point?

Self-leaders need to have the right skill-sets to modify their behaviors and develop the necessary mindset.  Successful Self-leaders must understand how to:

  • Set goals
  • Create and accept intrinsic and extrinsic rewards
  • Challenge and accept change in the status quo
  • Use their voice to empower themselves and those around them


Imagine how successful your organization could be if every employee received the training and tools to become a Self-leader.  Employing one or all of the above Self-leadership strategies will create a team of leaders who take initiative, resolve problems, and actively look for ways to improve their performance, productivity, and creativity. This will prepare your organization to better support customers, reduce inefficiency, and boost overall performance.

Are You Ready to Implement Self-Leadership Strategies at Work?

Not sure how to get started?  Sign your team up for the She Gets It Self-Leadership and Emotional Intelligence Mastermind Program. When we invest in ourselves and women leaders, we invest in a more innovative and profitable future.