Because I serve speechwriters who serve leaders, I read as much about leadership as I can. This usually amounts to scanning the canned "Corner Office" interview in the Sunday business section of The New York Times with a screwdriver at my elbow.
Occasionally CEO subject will say something amusing, as the chief of North American Properties did this week: "There are only two types of people in the world: people who do what they say they're going to do when they say they're going to do it, and people who don't do what they say they're going to do when they say they're going to do it."
Leadership reading is full of comfortingly dumb statements like that.
But last week in my travels—okay, on Facebook—I stumbled over a leadership term that truly disturbed me.
What is it? According to the consultancy Self Leadership International, self-leadership is "the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feeling and behaviors to achieve your objective/s."
How does one go about leading oneself? Through "self-awareness, self-goal setting, self-motivation, positive self-talk, assertive communication and the ability to receive and act on feedback."
Now, I won't pretend this concept is totally foreign to me. In fact, I often practice self-leadership. Usually, on the golf course. If I hit one into the lake, I'll advise myself, "You stupid fuck!"
But I do worry that suggesting to people that they must lead themselves encourages a dangerous psychological separation between them, and themselves. Also, a trend toward self-leadership could have even more Americans referring to themselves in the third person, Murray worries.
On the upside: If self-leadership catches on, leaders might need two sets of speechwriters—one for the leader, and one for the self.