As organisations strive to gain competitive advantages or respond to challenges they continually look to improved management techniques and leadership strategies. Robbins et al. (2014) believes that for organisation to achieve optimal effectiveness there is a need for strong leadership and management. They define leadership as “the ability to influence a group towards the achievement of a vision or set of goals” (Robbins et al. 2014, 300).
Managers must look to several leadership strategies to ensure ongoing success. Employee involvement practices are one of these strategies. More specifically, this paper looks at the practice of self-leadership and its application to project management.
The term self-leadership is used to describe self-influencing strategies that focus on behaviours and thoughts. It is a process (Manz and Neck 2004; Manz and Sims 1989) whereby people influence themselves to achieve self-direction and self-motivation required to perform tasks. Individuals navigate, motivate and lead themselves towards achieving desirable behaviours and outcomes. Gagne and Deci (2005, 331) believe that self-leadership brings about intrinsic motivation which “… involves people doing an activity because they find it interesting and derive spontaneous satisfaction from the activity itself.”
The strategies that guide self-leadership facilitate a sense of competence and control due to involvement in rewarding tasks. Manz and Sims (1989) believe this leads to the development of constructive perceptions and beliefs, which in turn produces improved behaviours and positively effects performance and outcomes. They demonstrated that self-leadership is linked to improved productivity, quality of work and employee morale. These strategies are broken into three basic categories; behaviour-focused, natural reward and constructive though patterns Manz and Neck (2004).
Behaviour focused strategy is the self-regulation of behaviour through self-assessment, self-reward and self-discipline Manz (1986). According to Houghton et al. (2004) the intent is to adopt positive desirable behaviours, while at the same time discouraging ineffective behaviours and is directed at enhancing the self-consciousness and the management of essential, yet sometimes unpleasant tasks. This is done through the use of (Carmeli 2006) self-observation, self-goal setting, self-motivation, positive self-feedback and reward, and self-coaching.
Natural reward strategy seeks out work activities that are enjoyable (Manz and Neck, 2004) and places importance on the more pleasant or gratifying aspect of any given job or task. Manz (1986) focuses on the positive experiences associated with the task and the process through which this is achieved. He believes that if work practices are viewed as pleasant, rewarding and enjoyable, this will help to instil a sense of capability, competence and self-control, which ultimately will lead to increased performance.
Finally constructive thought pattern strategies involve the creation and maintenance of functional patters of habitual thinking (Manz and Neck 2004). Constructive in nature, according to Carmeli, Meitar, and Weisberg (2006), these strategies are integrative and repetitive, allowing individuals to adopt positive thought patterns, which in turn brings about an enhanced emotional and behavioural state and reactions…