One of the challenging, and most rewarding, periods of my life was when training at Dartmouth Naval College to become a Naval Officer.

The College is renowned for its tough regime, and here I was, having just left 3 years of relatively relaxed university life, walking through those gates and into a whole new world.

What lay before me was in effect the toughest character and leadership programme imaginable.

Looking back now, although I didn’t realise it at the time (in fact, I don’t think I had time for realising very much during those first few months), it makes perfect sense that in order to create leaders, the first step is to work on the individuals’ character traits, disciplines, and qualities. It’s about creating the traits that are worthy of followers.

You see, Leadership begins with Self-Leadership.

There’s a wonderful quote… by Thomas J Watson… the President of IBM who led the organisation to amazing growth from the 1920s to the 1950s.

He said this:

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.”

So, to be a worthy leader, it begins with yourself.

Here’s a Self-Leadership Audit.

It’s certainly not exhaustive, yet is a good place to start.

Simply answer Yes or No to the following:

1. I’m often late for appointments or meetings

2. My briefcase is full of bits of work which I carry back and forward from home to the office and back again in the hope that I’ll get something done about them

3. I have no daily action plan

4. I often fail to keep promises to family, friends, colleagues, in business, personally, and socially

5. I have no clear path of what I want to achieve each day, week, month, year

6. There is always more to do than time available

7. I’m not disciplined enough to accomplish important tasks each day

8. I don’t find time to exercise

9. I eat irregularly and often in a rush, and often the wrong foods

10. I spend most days rushing from one crisis to the next

11. I find it difficult to finish the most important tasks

12. I have a seemingly overflowing email Inbox and a packed In-Tray, and I have little idea what’s really in them

13. My desk, house, car, office is cluttered

14. I am disorganised personally, financially, and in my business… and I cannot easily put my hands on important documentation

15. My diary is a mystery, and I have no concrete system which I run proactively

16. I rarely get time to do my Visual-isACTION techniques, and my first reaction when I think of doing them is that I will never get time, and I must move on to something more urgent

17. I don’t yet have clear values, written down

18. I take very little personal time each day

19. I’m indecisive and find it hard to trust my gut-feeling and moral compass

20. I may be on the way to burning myself out

Count up your score.

Ideally, we want to have 20 “No”s

And yet, very few people will achieve that… if you have, “Well done.”

If on the other hand, you have 20 YESs, time for some drastic remedial action.

A reasonable score might be to have just 4-6 YESs… but that’s still leaving some work to be done. There will always be room for improvement; and we aren’t aiming for perfection here… it’s not about being perfect, but polished.

So, see how many of these things you answered YES to.

Then make conscious decisions which help to correct them… perhaps correcting only 2-3 things at a time… but things which will have a wide impact.

Then do the audit again in a few days… and see the difference. Then correct specifically a couple more things, and then do the audit again in a week; and then in a month, and so on.

Become the leader… the self-leader. Then you will deserve to lead.