According to scholars Christopher P. Neck, Ph.D., and Jeffery D. Houghton, Ph.D., self-leadership is defined as:
“A process through which individuals control their own behavior, influencing and leading themselves through the use of specific sets of behavioral and cognitive strategies.” (Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 21, No. 4, 2006, p. 270-295).Self-Action Leadership, on the other hand, is:
"The strategic, lifelong practice of Self-Action Research aimed at maximizing one’s Self-Leadership Efficacy for the purpose of contributing to the long-term well being of self and others" (JJensen Dissertation, Vol. 1).
A key differences between self-leadership theory and Self-Action Leadership (SAL) theory is that SAL theory invokes a moral imperative, while self-leadership theory alone remains morally neutral. The moral imperative I speak of involves "contributing to the long-term well being of self and others," (JJensen Diss. Vol. 1).
Self-Action Leadership (SAL) takes self-leadership to a new level by taking into account the presence of Natural Laws of Acquisition in our World. Natural Laws of Acquisition (NLAs) come in the form of causes and consequences and set the price for acquiring lasting success. For example, if you want oranges, you better not plant apple seeds. If you wish to be fit, you better get off the couch to exercise regularly. There is no other way. You cannot cheat natural systems.
NLAs describe the way things really are in the World. They form unalterable decrees regarding the price you must pay in time and effort to achieve real results that possess lasting value.
While it is important to apply “behavioral and cognitive strategies” to get results in your life, what good will it do if those results do not stand the test of time and benefit others along the way? Moreover, what is the use of getting something if you do not become a better person in the process? What is the use of a piece of paper that says you have a degree if you have not become more intelligent and capable of serving others?
To further illustrate this point, consider the many evil people in the World who exhibit effective self-leadership. One of history’s most salient examples is Adolf Hitler. A talented, disciplined, and remarkably capable self-leader, this fiendish führer effectively used a variety of “behavioral and cognitive strategies” to get unbelievable results, at least in the short run.
The problem, of course, was that his actions were immoral, unethical, and devastated multitudes of people along the way. Moreover, because Hitler ignored Natural Laws of Acquisition, the results he did get had a relatively short shelf life. The thousand-year reign Hitler promised his people lasted only 12 years. Furthermore, it cost between five and seven million of the lives of his own people – not to mention the tens of millions of others who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis. And for what? Germany, and much of Europe, was in shambles when Hitler cowardly took his own life in 1945. It was a pathetic, yet predictable end to the life of a monster whose self-leadership lacked a moral compass.
But wait, there is more to Self-Action Leadership than just attaching a moral compass to self-leadership. In addition to "contributing to the long-term well being of self and others," (JJensen Diss. Vol. 1), Self-Action Leadership is also:
“The strategic lifelong practice of Self-Action Research aimed at maximizing your Self-Leadership Efficacy” (JJensen dissertation, Vol. 1).To fully understand what Self-Action Leadership is, you must also understand the meaning of Self-Action Research and Self-Leadership Efficacy. These two terms will be explained next week, so stay tuned to more fully understand what SAL is and how you can practice it for your personal benefit.