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Uniquely Autonomous Jobs

Uniquely autonomous jobs in organizations are of special interest for self-leadership. Certainly salespersons who spend a great deal of time traveling by themselves and calling on customers find that to a large degree they must be their own managers. Training in sales techniques and an expression of confidence in their abilities by the home office are often not enough for many to handle this challenge successfully. In the short run, for example, treating themselves to an expensive dinner for closing a big sale may be the only material reward they receive until returning home from a trip in the field. Salespersons need to play a critical role in their own development, motivation, and systematic self-leadership. Setting personal goals, rehearsing sales presentations, administering self-rewards, and seeking out the natural rewards in their job could mean the difference between success and failure.

Indeed, many other jobs present similar challenges—from the loosely supervised machine operator on a midnight shift to the chief executive officer of a large corporation who has ultimate authority for the direction of a business. Our own line of work, a college professor and a consultant, demands a high level of self-leadership. Yet our experience has revealed numerous cases in our profession in which individuals (including ourselves) have had personal and professional setbacks because of ineffective self-leadership practice. These setbacks often result from setting unrealistic goals, being overly self-critical, and engaging in dysfunctional thought patterns (e.g., inaccurate, debilitating, imagined experiences relating to immediate behavior choices).


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