Essays on The Significance of Self-Leadership Case Study

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The paper 'The Significance of Self-Leadership' is a wonderful example of a human resources case study. Self-Leadership is a fruit of self-realization, i.e. self-leadership is a process by which one steer ‘ him/herself’ better for the full realization. Manz best summarizes self-leadership as the process by which an individual influences. The significance of self-leadership as an aspect of management has increasingly become prominent in recent years. In fact, since the 1990s training on management has increasingly granted much focus to self-leadership, especially as a response to the contemporary business environment that emphasizes creativity, good learning skills, flexibility, and creativity, among others.

With the dynamism of today’ s world and demands, these skills are necessary for an effective response to the resultant unexpected situations. There different areas of self-leadership which include the physical, i.e. the body, social, i.e. relationships, mental, i.e. feelings, spiritual, i.e. religious and professional, i.e. work. It should be noted that these areas are not isolated from each other as this listing may imply. In other words, there is hardly a time when the focus is paid fully to just one of these areas.

On the contrary, these areas work in collaboration. Nonetheless, this paper will focus mainly on the area of work/profession. In this respect, it should also be noted that despite the turn of attention to the ‘ self’ , the fact remains that one still works with others in the organizations. The question then follows; what implications does the ‘ self’ have on contemporary human resource management, i.e. how do contemporary HRM practices respond to the ‘ self’ and mediate between it and the organization? It is important to note that although the main focus of this assignment is on self-leadership at work, the same, general strategies still apply here just as they do in other areas of self-leadership.

As such, although this discussion will mostly discuss the general strategies for self-leadership, the reader should remember it is all in relation to work or profession. Just as there are many theoretical perspectives in the definition of leadership, so there is a variety of approaches to the examination of self-leadership. Nonetheless, the basic premise of this definition remains the same; that it involves influencing oneself to attain self-motivation and find self-direction necessary so as to behave in ways appropriate and desirable (Manz, 1996; Houghton & Neck, 2002).

Neck and Houghton (2006) assert that the normative theory that is self-leadership provides one with certain cognitive and behavioral strategies that operate within and in relation to specific contexts as provided by self-control and regulation, social cognitive, and intrinsic motivation theories. On the basis of these theories, therefore, three different, but complementary strategy sets have been identified: behavioral strategies, natural reward strategies, and constructive patterns of thought (Neck & Houghton, 2006; Prussia, et al. , 1998). Behavioral strategies help to facilitate and boost one’ s self-awareness, which then leads to behavioral self-management, and especially in cases related to necessary although unpleasant tasks (Houghton & Neck, 2002).

There are five main strategies for enhancing self-leadership: one, self-observation, i.e. when and why one should act; two, self-goal setting, i.e. what goals one should pursue and how exactly to go about that pursuit; three, self-reward, i.e. compensation so as to energize oneself; four, self-punishment, i.e. conducting constructive self-criticism; and five, self-curing, i.e. acting appropriately in relation to external signaling (Neck & Houghton, 2006). According to (Manz, 1996), natural strategies of reward are mainly focused on positive experiences and perceptions realized from specific tasks that must be accomplished.

In relation to this, two main strategies for boosting self-leadership have been identified. The first one, Neck and Houghton (2006) suggest, is to construct features that are more naturally enjoyable into the work environment and the tasks therein as this makes such tasks more naturally rewarding. And according to (Houghton & Neck, 2002; Neck & Houghton, 2006), the second strategy involves shaping one’ s perceptions by paying more attention to the naturally rewarding feature or aspects of a task.

The overall premise here is that by increasing one’ s feelings and thoughts of competence and determination through recognizing and focusing on the enjoyable features of tasks at work, one consequently increases the performance of his/her task-related behavior.                       Strategies for a constructive pattern of thought are a cognitive approach to self-leadership and focus on one’ s efforts to establish and alter his/her patterns of thought in a way that influences performance positively (Neck & Houghton, 2006).

Three main tools necessary to boost this strategy have been identified: identifying and replacing dysfunctional assumptions and beliefs, mental imagery, and conducting positive self-talk (Neck & Houghton, 2006). Thus, this strategy aims at altering and establishing constructive and more adaptable patterns of thought, while minimizing ineffective and destructive thinking for the purpose of increasing personal effectiveness (Neck and Houghton, 2006).                       But this implied distinction is not real. Ultimately, the concept of self-leadership is viewed as an intrapersonal process, i.e. integrative of all these strategies. Neck and Houghton (2006) also argue that each self-leadership component contributes to the ultimate performance.

Roberts and Foti (1998), for instance, found a correlation between training on the constructive pattern of thought and positive effect or enthusiasm, which then enhanced job satisfaction and reduced negative effect or nervousness. Prussia et al. (1998), in another related study, found that strategies for self-leadership boosted evaluations on self-efficacy, which in turn affected one’ s performance.                       Kamdar and Van Dyne (2007) argue that the impact of self-leadership on individual performance is partially mediated by both self-efficacy and instrumentality. Equally, in his study, Politis (2006) found a direct link between behavioral self-leadership strategies and individual job satisfaction.

In the end, Neck and Houghton (2006), and Neck and Manz (1996) conclude that one who exhibits behaviors of self-leadership is likely to enhance his/her performance, and ultimately, the organizational performance, than one who does not.                       However, the processes of self-management do not exist and occur in a vacuum, but within the work environment. This assertion brings to the fore the influence of situational factors on individual efforts, i.e. the role of the organization in boosting self-leadership.                       Several research studies have found a correlation between individual self-leadership strategies and individual as well as organizational outcomes (Elloy, 2005).

Thus self-leadership is of great significance to the individual as well as the organization (Hochwarter, et al. , 2006). This relation between individual self-leadership and the organization is symbiotic. It is therefore not just about the importance of sound and effective self-leadership to the organization but also how the organization can boost self-leadership. Several structural and social elements of an organization, including amongst others: cooperation and support among superiors, clients, peers, and subordinates; guidance and training; good information and rewarding system; and tools and technologies used at work do affect self-leadership practices (Elloy, 2005; Hochwarter, 2006).

This is based on the concept of psychological climate (Parker, et al. , 2003), referring to how an individual perceives and interprets the working environment. Parker, et al (2003), further view psychological climate as to how an individual psychologically assigns meaning to organizational structures, events, and processes. The psychological climate is believed to have a significant influence on the quality of self-leadership in the sense that it shapes one’ s attitudes and behavior toward work, vis-à -vis the organization.                       Parker, et al (2003) viewed psychological climate as a five-dimensional concept.

One, goal emphasis, i.e. how and to what extent management informs employees about work expectations in relation to standards and outcome. Two, means emphasis, i.e. the procedures and methods that management expects to adopt in their job. Three, Reward orientation, i.e. the degree to which organizational rewards are based on realistic assessment and evaluation of job performance. Four, Task support, i.e. how well the organization avails to individual employees relevant and sufficient resources necessary for their jobs.

Finally, Socio-emotional support, i.e. individual perceptions on the degree to which the organization takes care of their welfare.                       These factors significantly boost self-perception and leadership in the sense that, according to James & Jones, 2001), individuals tend to respond to their perceptions and interpretations of the work environment rather, and not the work environment itself.                     These factors offer certain implications for organizations. Most significantly, these aspects of self-leadership can be best brought out depending on the practices of HR departments in helping employees.

Contemporary HRM is defined in a more holistic approach with regard to employee relations. The recent times have seen the scope of HRM broadened to include other things as motivation, training, and personal as well as the career development of individual employees. The idea here is that there is a difference between individual ‘ potential’ and ‘ action’ . And of the two, the most important is ‘ action’ , which can only be achieved by appropriately tapping into individual ‘ potential’ and making it a reality. Organizations can best enhance self-leadership by creating a climate that best reflects the features of the work environment that can facilitate practices of self-leadership (Elloy, 2005; Hochwarter et al. , 2006).

All this depends on the organization’ s recruitment strategies and procedures that would attract those who exhibit self-leadership.


Elloy, D. (2005). ‘The influence of superleader behaviors on organization commitment, job satisfaction and organization self-esteem in a self-managed work team’, Leadership and Organizational Development Journal, 26(2), pp. 120–127.

Hochwarter, W., Witt, L., Treadway, D. & Ferris, G. (2006). ‘The interaction of social skill and organizational support on job performance’, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 91, no. 2, pp. 482–489.

Houghton, J. & Neck, C. (2002). ‘The Revised self-leadership questionnaire: Testing a hierarchical factor structure for self-leadership’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, (17)8, pp. 672–691.

James, L.R. & Jones, A.P. (2001). ‘Organizational climate: A review of theory and research’, Psychological Bulletin, 81(12), pp.1096–1112.

Kamdar, D. & Van Dyne, L. (2007). ‘The joint effects of personality and workplace social exchange relationships in predicting task performance and citizenship performance’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(5), pp. 1286-1298.

Manz, C. (1996). ‘Self-leadership: toward an expanded theory of self-influence processes in organizations’, Academic Management Review, 11(3), pp. 585-600

Neck, C.P. & Houghton, J. (2006). ‘Two decades of self-leadership theory and research: Past developments, present trends, and future possibilities’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(4), pp. 270–295.

Neck, C. & Manz, C. (1996). ‘Thought self-leadership: The impact of mental strategies training on employee behavior, cognition, and emotion’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 17(5), pp. 445–467.

Parker, C., Baltes, B., Young, S.A., Huff, J., Altmann, R. & Lacost, H. (2003). ‘Relationships between psychological climate perceptions and work outcomes: A meta-analytic review’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24(4), pp. 389–416.

Politis, J. (2006). ‘Self-leadership behavioral-focused strategies and team performance: The mediating influence of job satisfaction’, Leadership and Organizational Development Journal, 27(3), pp. 203–216.

Prussia, G.E., Anderson, J.S. & Manz, C. (1998). ‘Self-leadership and performance outcomes: The mediating influence of self-efficacy’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19(5), pp. 523–538.

Roberts, H.E. & Foti, R.J. (1998). ‘Evaluating the interaction between self-leadership and work structure in predicting job satisfaction’, Journal of Business and Psychology, 12(3), pp. 257–267.

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