How Self-Leaders Show Up: Three Traits of Self-Leadership


Self-leaders show up when it counts and are vital to an organization’s success. 

We have been conditioned to believe that leadership has to do with our job title, the corner office, or the degree we graduated with, which is utterly false.

An Example 

On a flight an effective leader puts on their oxygen mask before helping others. For example, when the cabin pressure in an airplane drops, passengers must use the provided oxygen masks. Once secured, a person can then administer help to others. 

Likewise, when a crisis strikes within an organization or a significant change is on the horizon, a good leader understands the importance of securing their oxygen mask before attending to his team. 

Self-leadership in the business world has much to do with how the leader shows up. Outlook, attitude, and mental state are three critical areas a self-led leader must consider and have a plan for before showing up to lead.


A leader ready to lead shows up with the right outlook. They have a balanced view of the past, present, and future. A self-led leader is optimistic but realistic. They welcome honest feedback and seek-out ways to get better. This leader has considered the criticism and translated it into a new way forward. Not to be discouraged by past mistakes, a self-led leader takes responsibility, makes changes, and has a determined outlook for the future.


The self-led leader’s attitude reflects that the oxygen mask is already in place. Attitude is everything, and when a leader leads positively, it permeates the whole company. However, an overly sunny attitude might appear disingenuous. On the other hand, a realistic attitude that holds the good and the bad simultaneously creates trust between the leader and the teams they lead.

Mental State

It’s tough to be self-reflective, and it’s easy for leaders to think they are way better or worse than they are. However, feedback is vital to a self-led leader. Having a good view of self creates a healthier mental state for a leader. A solid mental state is balanced with a toolbox of proverbial tools to use in times of trouble and prosperity. Good leaders commonly seek a mentor or coach to help them expedite their growth along this pathway.


Show up with your oxygen mask already in place. Address and reassess your outlook, attitude, and mental state to be your best self-led leader. For help and direction on developing better leaders throughout your organization and more on this topic, please reach out to me at Tom Flick Communication to further the conversation.