There was a very poor man who was very hungry and desperate for help. Hearing about the generosity of Prophet Muhammad he approached him and asked for his help and charity. The Holy Prophet instead asked him to bring whatever he has from his home. The man returned with an old copper mug. The Holy Prophet then asked his companions seated with him if any of them would buy the mug. One of the companions offered to pay one Dirham. The Holy Prophet then asked if anyone would offer two Dirhams and one of them did. He then gave one dirham to the man to buy food for the day and asked him to buy an axe with the other dirham. When he came back with the axe, the Holy Prophet personally fixed a wooden handle to the axe and asked him to get firewood to sell at the market. A few days later, the man met the Holy Prophet and proudly told him he has been getting some fifteen Dirhams selling firewood within the last few days and is self sufficient. This parable denotes that a wise man like Prophet Muhammad emphasized the need for self leadership. In fact in one of his sayings the Prophet further highlights the importance of self-leadership; "The hand that gives is much better than the hand that receives"
Imagine if everyone adopts the principles of self-leadership and listen to the advice of Prophet Muhammad, the world will get itself free from poverty, dependence, and un-necessary reliance on others. The same is true with leadership. People must acquire self-leadership as it is only through self-leadership that the pinnacle of excellence can be achieved. What is self leadership and how it can be achieved? Let us answer the first question. I define Self-leadership as the “process of motivating and influencing oneself towards achieving superb personal and organizational goals” Self-leadership is internal and it emanates from oneself. While a leader influences others a self-leader influences her/himself towards achieving personal and organizational excellence.
Now to answer my second question of how one can achieve a self leadership let me offer the following model which can extremely enhance self-leadership.

The following are some of the key ingredients of an effective self leadership model:
Establishing a personal vision and mission is the first step towards self leadership and self mastery. Vision can be defined as “ the ability to foresee the future very clearly as you want it to be and take action towards its achievement” Everyone has dreams but very few have a vision about their future. Those who have no vision are the people with no sense of direction. . Mission on the other hand is the concise statement that describes, in motivating and memorable terms, the very purpose of your life and your strategy for achieving it. My personal mission statement is “ Sharing the wisdom of life long learning” . A mission provides both an internal rallying cry and external validity and is the very purpose for which you and I live our lives. One of the greatest historical leaders which is not well known to many people in the world was Ghaffar Khan. Ghaffar Khan was the leaders of Pakhtuns or commonly known as Pathans the warlike tribes living on both sides of Pakistan Afghan border. His life mission besides global peace was universal love for fellow human beings. In one of his speeches he said that “The Holy Prophet Mohammed came into this world and taught us: 'That man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God's creatures. Belief in God is to love one's fellow men.”

Every religion, dogma and philosophical thoughts have always pleaded the need for self-understanding and self evaluation. However very few of us take time and understand or evaluate ourselves. One of the most effective and simple tool which can be used to carry out personal valuation is what is popularly known as SWOT Analysis. Generally SWOT analysis is carried out by organizations who wish to determine their strategic direction but individuals can also benefit by using it. SWOT is a combination of four words starting with S which stands for Strengths. Strengths consist of internal positive aspects that you possess and upon which you may capitalize in achieving your personal and career goals. W stands for weaknesses. All of us have weaknesses which internal negative aspects that we need to improve. Everyone has weaknesses and understanding of it is the first step towards improving them. The third aspect of SWOT starting with letter O is opportunities which our environment offers us. Opportunities are positive external conditions that exist in our external environment and which we can take advantage of. Finally the letter T stands for threats. Threats are negative external factors which can take away what we have or rob us from the opportunities which we possess or may gain in future. One should not be scared of threats but prepare oneself towards overcoming or beating them. In essence SWOT analysis offers us a good insight about who we are, what we possess and what we lack, and what awaits for us and what can endanger our present achievements. Understanding of the self is the key step towards self leadership and SWOT is the tool which can help us in self evaluation and self understanding.
The proverb that “no man is an island” has universal application for all of us. None of us can work and achieve alone and our success or failure depends on the support and cooperation of others. Thus we need to align our leadership with the leadership of others. If you are a boss align yourself with the needs and self-leadership of your followers and subordinates. On the other hand if you are a subordinate employee you must align your goals with that of the leader. Call it harmonious relations with others, emotional intelligence, and inter-personal relations or you can call it any other name you need to align your needs with that of others and only then you can succeed. No doubt at times your needs may be in collision with that of others but seeking win-win solutions can get you the results which you aim for.
Nothing in this world can be achieved without action and enormous action is the key step towards personal excellence. It is not the potential but what we do with our potential which make us excel. And hard work is the key which unlock our potential. Ask any great man or woman their secret to success and hard work will be their common trait towards success.

Positive attitude and the belief that one is born to succeed are also the key ingredients for personal leadership. People with the positive mindset see opportunities in threats and solutions in problem. A person who believes that s/he will achieve what ever they aim for will achieve it than those who lack the faith and optimism of achieving them. So create a positive outlook for your life and be optimistic and you will have better chances of achieving your goals than those who lack this quality.
Learning is a lifelong process and those who practice these principles are truly leaders. That is why Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in one of his very famous sayings emphasized to “Seek knowledge from the Cradle to the Grave ". All wise people and great philosophers and reformists have also encouraged people to acquire learning on a continuous basis. In the knowledge based era the attitude to acquire knowledge on a continuous basis is the key to success.

Every one of us was engineered by the Master Creator for excellence and success. The faculties we are borne with are more than enough to steer us towards the zenith of excellence and great achievements. However it will not happen by chance but we need to design self-leadership strategies which will help us become the best we can be. Self leadership insight provided in this article offer some of the best and time tested principles which if applied can help you and those affected by your action towards greater achievement. Best of luck for embarking on the exciting journey of Self-Leadership.
Dr Adalat Khan is an international columnist who is based in Malaysia and can be reached at

Author's Bio: 


o Doctor OF Business Administration-DBA, American University
of Hawaii-USA.
o M.B.A. Peshawar University, Pakistan.
o Post graduate diploma in Management Holland.

Dr. Khan is a Certified Trainer with the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) Malaysia. He has conducted various training programs on occupational safety and health and conducted live safety audits in multinational companies. Besides corporate training Dr. Khan has also delivered lectures to diploma, bachelor, master programs in safety, health and environmental engineering.

He is also a visiting professor to the American Central University, USA and have taught various courses such as management, leadership, communication, law etc. He has provided consultancies to Medtronics International (Holland) the biggest pace making company in the world in their switch over to Japanese style of management, German Agency for development Co-operation (GTZ) for designing and conducting Entrepreneurship training, the Swiss Government for developing policy for the promotion of small and medium scale industries. He is the director of MINA MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE, a leading Malaysian Management consultancy and educational organisation. He is an internationally renowned trainer and consultant, registered on the roasters of ILO United Nations, The founder member of Pakistan Environmental Protection Foundation, The Asian Development Bank and The Commonwealth Secretariat.

Dr. Adalat has also helped many companies in their improvement programmes like, BPR, OD, Business revivals and has also conducted training programmes for many organisations and trained hundreds of people both in Malaysia and overseas. He has conducted many programmes for Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), and International Youth Centre (IYC). He has also spoken to international conferences like Trainers Meets Trainers 95, organised by SMR. The response and feed back received confirms his excellent and results oriented training approaches. His focus on achieving both qualitative and quantitative results has helped many organisations save and earn huge financial gains.

Additionally he has also attended various prestigious short terms training programmes, ISO Lead Assessors course conducted by NEVILLE CLARK, Project appraisal techniques by World Bank, Entrepreneurship development by MSI USA starting your own business, USAID, Certified trainer by GTZ Germany, certified trainer by The Institute for Supervision and Management (ISM) UK, and numerous other organisations. During the past 13 years he has worked, trained and consulted with manufacturers, Government agencies, Banks, Insurance companies, and International agencies.
o He is a member of United States Distance Learning Association-USDLA,
o NED United Nations.
o Able Toast Masters, Toast Masters International-USA.
o Written several publications, which are published in United Nation's publications, international magazines, WORLD EXECUTIVE DIGEST, and Management Times etc.