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A tool for managers to reduce stress and increase control

Updated: Mar 7

Here at +Rasmussen we try and live up to our standards of 360-degree leadership, those being: leading yourself, leading others and being led. This understanding and philosophy of leadership, which we also consult and train upon, is at the core of being a successful leader and displaying effective leadership behavior. What do we mean by “leading yourself”? In our practice when talking with leaders, leading yourself has a variety of meanings and applications. Amongst many more, these are keeping your mental and physical balance, balancing all areas of life, questioning and finding your own purpose, acting with self-efficacy, accepting and integrating feedback, sensing and working with your own emotions constructively or not falling into the trap of becoming arrogant, and staying grounded. All these are viewed as essential for good self-leadership. While this is important for each and every individual in your organization, it is naturally even more relevant for leaders at the top of organizations such as CEOs. Upper management is typically facing higher amounts of workload, strain and uncertainty – while at the same time bearing the expectations of making far-reaching decisions and carrying overall responsibility. A deeper dive into those “surrounding topics” of self-leadership and balance will be content of a different article – here, we take a different angle and first look. One promising way of approaching and handling these demands from a systematic perspective is the concept of self-leadership described in science and academia. We can only go as far as a quick dive into this topic here, but a brief summary and moving from practice to science - self-leadership is defined and described more narrowly as: “a process of influence” and “the leadership [influence] that we exercise over ourselves.” [1] Based on theories of self-regulation[2], motivational theories (e.g., self-determination theory[3]) and social cognitive theory[4], self-leadership is described as a set of strategies that is most commonly grouped into behavior-focused strategies, natural reward strategies (motivational) and constructive thought-pattern strategies. Those are:


Natural reward

​Constructive thought pattern


​Integration of natural rewards into tasks

Identifying and eliminating dysfunctional beliefs

Self-goal setting

Focus on natural rewards

Positive self-talk

Self-reward & punishment

Constructive mental imagery

​Environmental cues

Behavior-focused strategies are aimed towards identifying and replacing ineffective behaviors and replacing them with effective ones – being also especially relevant for long term goal achievement. Natural reward strategies allow individuals to find enjoyment in a given task or activity and constructed thought pattern strategies are aimed at reshaping certain key mental processes in order to facilitate more positive and optimistic thinking patterns and mental processes. Why is a dive into the theoretical concept of self-leadership worth it? Next to the increasing demand of self-leadership in individuals and teams in an agile context (and with this, the increasing demand of effective individual self-regulation, self-motivation and self-management), the pursuit of leading yourself effectively promises more productiveness, higher perception of self-efficacy and control, but also less stress and anxiety in the face of your work demands. And this theory can be expanded since we have not talked about self-leadership from an “emotional” perspective (emotional self-leadership[5]) or on a team and organizational level (superleadership[6]) yet. What should be your takeaway? Next time you aim for a stretching or long-term challenge, make sure to check how behavioral-focused self-leadership strategies may help you get there. Next time there is a (frequent) task you dislike, there might be something pleasant you can integrate or rephrase the meaning of the task itself for you. And lastly, if you find yourself in a bad situation or crisis, dysfunctional beliefs and thought patterns might play their part in hindering you of moving further or getting into action. The “How” of how you steer yourself matters. What’s left to say is that “leading yourself”, both from a pragmatic standpoint and in academia, is worth a shot – both for you as an individual but also for your team and organization – and we as a team of consultants, coaches and trainers are happy to engage with you if you want to learn, reflect or engage more. If you are interested and would like to get in touch, feel free to contact us below. Author: Jonas Schmid -

[1] Neck, C. P., & Manz, C. C. (2010). Mastering self-leadership: Empowering yourself for personal excellence. pearson. [2] Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981). Attention and Self-Regulation: A Control-Theory Approach to Human Behavior. Springer-Verlag. [3] Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1993). Die Selbstbestimmungstheorie der Motivation und ihre Bedeutung für die Pädagogik. [1Zeitschrift für Pädagogik] Here, 39(2), 223–238. [4] Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. In Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. [5] Manz, C. C., Houghton, J. D., Neck, C. P., Fugate, M., & Pearce, C. (2016). Whistle While You Work: Toward a Model of Emotional Self-Leadership. [6] Manz, C. C., & Sims, H. P. (2001). The new superleadership: Leading others to lead themselves. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

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