What is self-leadership… and are you any good at it? - Sage B. Hobbs

I was sitting alone at the bar in a hip restaurant in downtown San Diego, eating fresh tacos and sipping on one perfect margarita. I was feeling free and excited for the days ahead meeting new people and exploring a cool city.

But as I found myself having my third meal in a row alone, some of that luster had worn off. It was time to figure out what I really wanted to get out of my time attending the National Conference on Education. I was there to connect with some of the 5,000 educational leaders from across the country…but I was struggling to put myself out there. 

I’m known to be an outgoing person, scoring high on things like Connection and  WOO (winning others over) on all of the leadership and personality assessments I’ve ever taken (which are many). I love connecting with people. I’ve built my life and business around relationships.

So, I needed to tap back into my own self-leadership.

What does it mean to truly lead your life? To practice self-leadership?

My definition of self-leadership is that you’re “awake at the wheel.” You guide your thoughts and actions in alignment with your own core values to build a life you love.

Self-leadership requires leveraging your emotional intelligence skillsself-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management – to truly lead one’s own life.

Three of my core values are courage, compassion, and connection. They’re even baked into my  leadership development frameworks that I use All. The. Time. 

With a lens of self-leadership, I reminded myself that while I love connecting with people, it takes some courage to approach strangers. And I gave myself some grace for having had a slow start. 

I started finding more organic ways to start conversations, which led to sharing a delicious chai and bagel breakfast with a brilliant superintendent from the midwest. And lovely dinner with two amazing women administrators.  

And I was back at the wheel.

I was leading a group of school leaders last week. I asked them to do some self-reflection on various aspects of their leadership.  One of those was self-leadership.

Their insights were fascinating. They discussed their health and well-being. They talked about setting boundaries and modeling how they want their staff to do so as well. They dove deep into the challenge of navigating hard conversations, and the courage and empathy they require.

Whether working with a CFO, school principal, or a leadership professional who is assessing their next career move…I center self- leadership because we can’t model best practices if we’re not actually practicing them.

So here’s your invitation: 

Think about how you are (or aren’t) practicing self-leadership in your own life.

  • What are the values you want to live by?
  • How are you managing your thoughts and actions to align with those values?
  • Where could you revisit your self-leadership to put yourself back “at the wheel” if you’ve gone off course?

As always, thanks for being in this conversation with me, truly.   And please forward this letter to someone who may need it.

With courage to stay at the wheel,


PS: Want to work with me in 2024? Great! Here’s how I’m working with folks this year:

  • The Principal Leadership Program (for school leaders only)
  • Keynote Speaking at organizations, professional associations, conferences, or campuses
  • Team Trainings on Emotional Intelligence, Team Building, and Communication 
  • Executive Leadership Coaching
  • Thought partnership and consulting for challenging people dynamics

My favorite topics for speaking and training are: 

  • Communication that builds connection (and improves success and wellbeing) 
  • Transforming difficult conversations into opportunities for connection
  • Leading with Emotional Intelligence and Courage

If you’re interested in learning more, reply to this email and we’ll connect further! I’m looking forward to it 😀