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How to stop being so hard on yourself - Developing self-compassion as leader

self-compassion | leadership | self-kindness | Melissa Hague | Leadership Coach | Dorset

In leadership, expectations are high and challenges are constant, and it's all too easy to fall into the trap of being overly critical of ourselves. As a leader, you hold yourself to high standards, but it's really important to remember that being hard on yourself doesn't equate to success; it can bring problems rather than solve them. In this article, we'll explore some strategies to break free from the cycle of self-criticism and learn to treat yourself with the kindness and understanding you deserve.

Understanding our Patterns of Self-Criticism

Being hard on yourself often stems from a desire for excellence. You're committed to delivering the best results, and this commitment can sometimes morph into self-imposed pressure. The problem arises when this pressure evolves into constant self-criticism, when what happens is that you erode your own confidence and sense of achievement.

It's important to recognise that nobody is perfect, including leaders. Mistakes and setbacks are important parts of the journey, after all, it’s how we grow. Instead of berating yourself for not being good enough, think of these experiences as opportunities for learning.

Practice Being Kind To Yourself as a leader

Self-compassion (which is just another way of saying being kind to yourself!) is the cornerstone of stopping the cycle of self-criticism. Treat yourself with the same kindness you treat your friends. When something is hard, or you make mistakes, acknowledge your feelings without also judging yourself harshly. Remember, mistakes are not failures; they're a) perfectly normal and b) stepping stones toward improvement.

Many people mistakenly avoid self-compassion, believing that it means being easy on yourself and will lead to being complacent. But self-compassion in fact is the foundation for resilience and helps you develop the courage to face hard facts. In taking a constructive — rather than critical or harsh — attitude toward your efforts as a leader, you build your capacity to navigate challenges and unpredictability."

Cultivating self-compassion involves recognising that setbacks are normal - everyone experiences them. Just as your peers may encounter hurdles, so will you. Extend the same empathy to yourself as you do to them, and allow yourself room for growth.

Shift Your Leadership Perspective

Changing the way you perceive challenges can make a massive difference to how hard you are on yourself. Instead of viewing difficulties as signs of personal inadequacy or weakness, see them as opportunities to learn and to stretch yourself. Instead of beating yourself up about each challenge, let them become a chance to develop new skills and insights.

Ask yourself:

  • What have I learnt that i can apply to other situations?

  • What might I do differently next time?

  • What more do I need to learn about myself, the situation or the people involved?

Remember, leadership is about adaptability. When you approach challenges with curiosity rather than self-criticism, you create an opportunity for yourself to be innovative and creative.

Celebrate Your Leadership Wins

As a leader, you're accustomed to setting high goals, but don't let those goals overshadow your accomplishments. Celebrate your wins, regardless of their size. Acknowledge your achievements and the progress you've made. This positive reinforcement fosters a sense of self-appreciation and fuels your motivation to keep moving forward.

Your Journey To Self-Kindness as a leader

As a leader, the journey to self-kindness is not just an act of self-care; it's an investment in your leadership resilience and effectiveness. By not being so hard on yourself, shifting your perspective, and celebrating your achievements, you'll give yourself the chance to break free from the cycle of self-criticism.

Melissa Hague | Leadership Coach & Certifed Dare to Lead Facilitator

About the Author

Melissa is a Leadership Coach and Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator based in Dorset, with a particular interest in supporting people who are stepping up from managing individuals to leading other managers.


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