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Organizations have been paying much attention to leadership as influencing 'followers' to achieve goals. Self-leadership is the process of influencing oneself. Self-leadership is an important theme for working on the coming period, both in the Netherlands and in the Balkans. The plan is to develop tools for organizations. In the Western Balkans, also research is carried out.

Self-leadership: tool development for the Dutch market

There are many tools and instruments that help professionals with their personal development. But there are also questions: are the tools based on solid research, or do they originate from the minds of inventive practitioners? In collaboration with De Boer & Ritsema van Eck DBR, a tool is developed for fostering self-leadership in organizations (in Dutch). This will be linked to the concept of empowering leadership. A test phase was completed to assess a validated survey instrument among Dutch professionals. Then adjustments were made, and a new test phase was started. The end result is an online tool (scan and workbook) that organizations and individuals can use. 

See for more information. In December 2021 Business Contact published the book 'The sweet spot of leadership' (in Dutch). That is about an alternative leadership model, based on selfleadership, empowering leadership and shared leadership.

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Academic study: self-leadership in the Western Balkans 

Self-leadership and empowering leadership are still rather unfamiliar concepts in management discussions in the Western Balkans, and in Central and Eastern Europe for that matter. While traditional / conservative leadership styles of managers prevail, more modern leadership styles also exist in some organisations.

In a first Western Balkan study ('Self-leadership and empowering leadership in a Western Balkan context', completed in 2020), employed professionals’ views of self-leadership and experienced empowering leadership were measured, and interviews were conducted with senior company managers to generate their viewpoints of the developments pertaining to self-leadership and empowering leadership. Results show correlations between self-leadership and empowering leadership but also show that the notion of empowering leadership leading to more self-leadership demands another type of research. The study also notes differences between men’s and women’s reports.

Follow-up studies will be on different aspects of self-leadership. After the large survey, more qualitative research is needed to get a better grasp of survey data (e.g. the motives of respondents behind their scores), develop a better understanding of real-world practices in different types of companies, and the relation between management / HRM and fostering self-leadership. 

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Self-leadership: a student version for the Western Balkans

Self-leadership is relevant for business, but for higher education students as well. Both workers and students benefit from better ‘leading themselves’, to do better at work and in their studies. Self-leadership is the basis for ‘getting the (study) job done’; show persistence in study, enjoy it and deal with the challenging aspects of work of studies. Self-leadership and self-motivation have become more important with increased online presence due to COVID19, more is asked from students because group motivation, group pressure and personal (physical) interaction with students and teaching staff are reduced. 

An online tool can help students to be more conscious of their current self-leadership and the aspects of self-leadership needing improvement. The theory is that students with good self-leadership will do better during their studies and will enjoy their studies. To help students, higher education institutes could promote better insight among students into their self-leadership and offer access to the tool at modest cost. In a 2022 a pilot survey in Albania among >300 students will be done to test the revised model, survey instrument and the assumptions.  

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