Leading a credit union has never been easy. As the industry evolves, it seems that every day new challenges arise that stretch your capacity, your team’s capacity, and your credit union’s capacity.

That’s why you need to shift your thinking about leadership and refine your focus.

It starts by leading yourself first!

Image from DollarPhotoClub.com

Image from DollarPhotoClub.com

Being a successful leader of ourselves is the most important thing we can do…for ourselves and the people we lead.

Like it or not, when you are a leader, people look to you all the time. They look to you at every staff meeting. They look to you at every water-cooler chat. They even look to you at lunch.

You are expected to be “on” all the time.

As rewarding as that is, it can be downright exhausting – especially if you don’t have the tools in place to handle all of that attention.

When you are wrapped up in the goal of creating success, it is all too easy to lose sight of what you need on a personal level. Once that happens, it becomes difficult, if not impossible to lead people and organizations successfully.

But leading yourself first is not automatic. It takes work. But you owe it to yourself and the people you lead to be the best version of you that you can be.

Author Chris Lowney reinforces this notion in his book, Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads: “These are the foundations of self-leadership, and all leadership starts with self-leadership because you can’t lead the rest of us if you can’t lead yourself.”

The bottom line is that leading yourself first is not just about the actions you take. It’s about your thoughts, your thinking, and how you direct your energy to the outcomes you want.

Here are seven key areas that merit your attention as you seek to lead yourself first, along with a question you can use to assess where you are and envision where you want to go in each area:

1. MIND – Are you committed to continuous improvement and expansion of your mind?

2. BODY – Are you taking care of yourself by moving enough, fueling properly, and resting sufficiently?

3. SPIRIT – What do you do to take care of your spirit and maintain a balance in your life?

4. EMOTIONS – Do you react to situations and challenges with the appropriate level of emotion?

5. RELATIONSHIPS – Are the relationships in your life a source of support, particularly when challenges arise?

6. CAREER – Do you have a clear vision of where your career is leading you and how you will transition out of it?

7. FINANCES – Are your current financial resources supporting your life today (and tomorrow)?

Action advice: Powerful long-term results are created through cumulative actions every day. Define a personal action plan to lead yourself first by examining your performance in each of these seven areas and taking action to become more effective by taking small actions every day. It’s worth the effort, it will be noticed, and your impact will be increased!