JAM CFO Nico Esterhuizen: Leaders, challenge yourself in these four life dimensions

To attain the "badge" of true leadership, you have to master personal leadership, says Nico.

The concept of leadership holds different truths for different people. Some of us are of the view that leadership is pointing people in the right way, for some it is about managing people in a specific manner and for others, it is all about being a servant.

What is leadership? True leadership is aimed at the improvement of others without any selfish gains; it is being unafraid to show humility and empathy; it shows integrity and honesty, and embraces failure. True leadership is innovative and inspires people. Think of any true leader, and you will find that they will meet these core ingredients. 

However, to attain the “badge” of true leadership requires first and foremost personal leadership.  This is so essential that world-renowned management expert Peter Drucker referred to personal leadership as “the only leadership that’s going to matter in the 21st century.”

Within the domain of personal leadership, we find four internal life dimensions. These are our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical life dimensions. Personal leadership is inside-out focused, which requires each leader to find a rhythm whereby each internal life dimension remains continuously active.

Each of these four internal life dimensions is an individual subject and requires detailed discussion, but as a very basic guide, I challenge people to understand that true leadership comes from the standpoint of being absent in ego; which a core concept in spiritual leadership. The absence of ego results in better and longer-term focused decisions. The same is true for the mental life dimensions, including being aware of our own mindset. A mindset of growth versus a fixed mindset is one that enables the ability to make good decisions and lead to the benefit of others.

Emotional intelligence, as a feature of the emotional life dimension, is the ability to identify one’s own emotions as well as those of others, harness and apply them to tasks, and to regulate and manage them. The final internal life dimension is the physical dimension which is much more than going to the gym or going for a run. It requires each of us to assess our well-being, such as sleep patterns, sufficient rest and eating habits.

My challenge to you is to assess yourself against these four internal life dimensions, study these topics and find a rhythm whereby each of these life dimensions remains active and healthy in your own personal life and then to see the positive impact of this in the execution in your professional leadership.