How to Promote Self-Leadership on Teams: 5 Ways to Encourage Powerful, Creative Team Members 

Recently in our blog we brought up the concept of Self-Leadership. This relatively new concept brings together leadership and personal development in really interesting and beneficial ways. And we also discussed how Self-Leadership dovetails neatly with our view of leadership and how it can be accessed by all team members.

All members of a team can benefit from learning about leadership skills. Indeed, Self-Leadership shows how these skills can make team members more self-motivated, responsible, and attentive to others’ needs. This can open up completely new and exciting areas of your team’s potential, and create a culture of leadership that makes your team more resilient.

So in this blog post we’ll talk about ways that you can foster this type of team growth through Self-Leadership and promote it on your team. While Self-Leadership is generally thought of as a set of ideas for individuals to use to motivate themselves, as we will see there are ways that you can help support Self-Leadership on your team through actions and by creating the right team environment.  

A review of Self-Leadership

First, let’s go over some of the main points of Self-Leadership. Self-Leaderships posits that the best leaders are those who can lead themselves. This means they have an awareness of themselves that allows them to self-regulate, self-motivate, and engage with other people in a productive way that leads them towards their self-defined goals. 

Self-Leadership is therefore about managing your relationship to yourself, to other people, and to structures and organizations. Below are some of the most basic actions that can lead to Self-Leadership. As you will see, they are not just focused on inward navel-gazing, but are also concerned about the larger world too. 

  • Get into the habit of setting goals for your life and work.
  • Honor and respect others.
  • Embrace new experiences, ideas, and opportunities.
  • Do the right thing, not the easy thing.
  • Be fearless.
  • Find the beauty and goodness in everyone, as well as in the world around you.
  • Actively reject pessimism.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Care for others.
  • Question everthing.
  • Become a role model.
  • Surround yourself with teachers and mentors who aren’t afraid to criticize you.

How to promote Self-Leadership on your team

1. Create a psychologically safe environment

Building a healthy and productive team environment for Self-Leadership to flourish starts with psychological safety. Psychologically safe environments are one in which team members feel free to speak openly and honestly with each other, and in which team members don’t feel anxious or afraid in their work.

We’ve talked many times about the benefits of psychological safety for teams before. But psychological safety can also be beneficial for Self-Leadership. When team members feel psychologically safe in their team environments, they can begin to manage themselves and their work better, as well as think more creatively and proactively.

Another component of psychological safety though is managed conflict. This means that conflicts over ideas and ways of doing things are harnessed into productive outcomes that make it so that conflict doesn’t bubble over into personal relationships at work. 

Thus, psychological safety also benefits the strengthening of interpersonal relationships, and teaches team members ways of dealing with and reaching out to their team members in more empathetic ways.  

2. Emphasize and encourage reflection

Another major aspect of Self-Leadership is reflection. Reflecting on actions and decisions can lead to growth and development and encourage healthy criticism about how team members manage themselves.

Therefore, teams should try to promote more reflection about how they accomplish goals and what they can do to be better. This can be done through team-wide SWOT-style discussions (talking about team strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), or through smaller dialogues between team members.

Encouraging reflection can also help improve team members’ accountability as well. This doesn’t mean that team members should be punished. Rather, the emphasis should be on how team members can learn from their failures and use these lessons to better their work in the future.     

3. Provide mentorship and training

A great way to promote Self-Leadership is through mentorship and training. Mentorship and skill training is often overlooked on teams, much to their detriment. The best way to learn is through guidance from more experienced members, who are more capable of managing themselves and working towards goals due to their experience.

Offering training sessions to improve certain skills can also help make team members more confident in their abilities, as well as offering a chance for more interpersonal development with their peers.

In either case, learning together as a team teaches team members the importance of growing together. And as they share knowledge and experience, team members can help each other become better at Self-Leadership and develop their potential in mutually supportive ways. 

4. Discuss shared goals 

Goal-setting is another major aspect of Self-Leadership. The ability to create goals for ourselves and work towards achieving them is not something reserved only for leaders. But doing this successfully demonstrates a certain amount of self-management and self-regulation, as well as an inner motivation. 

So goal-setting on teams can also be used to inspire team members to think about goal-setting individually. If you have inclusive meetings where you discuss the future of the team and what new projects you want to accomplish, other team members will get on board and think more actively about what they can do to help.

Again, we want to emphasize the importance of sharing goals together. This creates a shared team spirit, with a similar vision and purpose. Which not only makes your team more unified, but also nurtures Self-Leadership and new leaders who want to help drive the team towards that vision.

5. Build relationships and think outside the box through team building 

The final way you can promote Self-Leadership on teams is through team building. Team building builds interpersonal relationships between team members, and also puts them into new situations that are unfamiliar, which challenges them mentally creatively.

Self-Leadership is both an inward and forward-looking concept. To be your own leader you have to know yourself while also knowing your relationship with the outside world and how you can move towards changing it. 

Team building similarly tests both individual skills and teams a whole. It asks team members to give their energy and talents, whatever they can muster, in combination with the rest of the team. 

Team building also engages team members creatively. In the challenges, they are placed in strange situations, where they have to figure out solutions to problems that they are not familiar with. This requires a stretching and expanding of the mind, which can let in new ideas and inspire novel ways of thinking. 


Self-Leadership is a powerful way to think about leadership and our personal lives. But teams also have a role to play to promote Self-Leadership and encourage growth for their team members. The above shows that how we think about tam environments and interpersonal relationships affects how team members see themselves and manage their work, develop their creativity, and become the leaders of the future. 

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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