3 Strategies to “Lead From Within”

Lead From Within (C)

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” ~ Woodrow Wilson

Listen to today’s post on the go or continue reading below …


This week, I tuned in to an excellent Tony Robbins podcast entitled Episode 5: Transforming Your Company’s Culture. As an aside, I must say that I am really enjoying podcasts lately as I find it a great way to expand my mind. I usually tune in when I am driving, cooking or cleaning. Of course, to take out the multitasking aspect, it would be preferable to just sit and listen.

Anyhow, this podcast really brings to light the concepts behind leadership, in particular, effective leadership driven by core values. Some of the concepts apply to many business models, big or small, as well as even your ‘personal’ leadership. I think ‘leadership’ or ‘being a leader’ conjures many different images and ideas for people. My simplistic definition of a leader is someone who leads by example from a place of integrity and compassion.

I often like to emphasize the point to a group of physicians or medical trainees that physicians are seen as leaders, and in turn, may want to look at themselves that way too. I believe the topic of leadership should be both emphasized during medical training and discussed more once in practice. For example, the Canadian Medical Association’s Physician Leadership Institute offers leadership development courses that are both highly sought after and extensive.

Other discussions around leadership in healthcare are currently happening through social media. For instance, through the Healthcare Leadership Blog, a tweetchat about healthcare leadership using the hashtag hcldr (#hcldr) takes place every Tuesday.

Leadership from within

No matter what the setting, a leader must ‘lead from within’ – it is not dictated by titles, office or income. Although the development of leadership skills is an extensive topic unto itself, I believe that the following 3 strategies are a great place to start:

1) Harness self-awareness: An undeniable feature of effective leaders is a high level of emotional intelligence (EQ) and one of the guiding principles of EQ is self-awareness. In fact, self-awareness continually comes up when discussing many aspects of self-management. In order to guide others, you must first know yourself and understand your own emotions, actions and motivations. This requires some ‘mirror work’ – looking at how you feel and respond to situations as if holding up a mirror. One way to achieve this is through journaling.

2) Identify your core values: In the podcast I referred to above, Marissa Levin discusses a key feature of building a business culture – identifying the core values of the organization and let those values be the guide. This applies to both our personal and professional lives – when we live and/or work in opposition with our core values, we are unable to guide ourselves much less others in the best direction. The MindTools exercise, What Are Your Values?, is a great way to get started on exploring your core values as sometimes may we not be able to consciously identify our values because they are part of who we are.

3) Begin with the end in mind: I have discussed Stephen Covey’s habit 2, Begin With the End in Mind, different times and it remains one of the most valuable exercises for both your business and your life. It draws on your values by incorporating your principles, but serves as a direction toward who and what you want to be. If you live with the end in mind, Covey states that you will “make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole”. That is leadership personified.

Using the MindTools exercise from #2, what are your top values based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment?



Covey, S.R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Free Press: New York.

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