Knowledge Center


Article -> Four Areas of Holistic Leadership

Date Added: July 2011

Note: This article appeared in the July 17, 2011 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.

The past two articles addressed self leadership. Being a holistic leader is much more than self leadership, which is only 25 percent of leadership. There are four key areas to become a holistic leaderwork, self, family and humanitarian leadership.


These four areas relate to everyone. Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers, etc. Those who work and those at home. Those with families and those without. Those who volunteer and those who don’t. The level of leadership is up to you; yet, everyone can become a holistic leader by achieving all four leadership areas.


Leadership at work may be the most common because this is where we see leaders of organizations, departments, etc. If you ever had less than stellar leaders, it’s probably because they haven’t discovered one or more of the other three areas. Work leadership is attained by performance and/or experience (not title). Some people simply perform better than others.


Self leadership can be accomplished by embracing continual learning. Leaders may have earned work leadership; although personal reflection is needed to for self leadership. Prior articles explored this.


Family leadership occurs at home. What are you doing to become a better spouse, parent, sibling, child, etc.? Just as we may have learned work or self leadership from watching others, family leadership often is observed at home. My father was a dictator and not personable. This is what I learned from family leadership and how I led at work and with family. It worked the same for me as my father – not very well. Are you the best leader at home as you are for yourself and at work?


Humanitarian leadership is leading in local and global communities, and can be done by anyone. Volunteer for a non-profit organization or on a service project. Join a committee. Participate in something to help improve your local and/or international communities.


Imagine a woman who didn’t consider herself a leader. She was divorced and felt she lacked family leadership, yet she was a wonderful mother to her children. She didn’t think she was a work leader because she was “only” a customer service representative; however, due to her years of experience, others came to her for knowledge which she gladly provided – true leadership.


She volunteered with some humanitarian organizations with no desire to be a Board member because she didn’t feel she was a leader; although she willingly led several successful committees. She was surprised when her involvement with each leadership area was mentioned, stating, “What about self leadership?” She missed that in every facet of her life – work, family, humanitarian – she sought input from others because she wanted to help improve herself and her surrounding environment… the essence of self leadership.


Without realizing it, you may already be living these four leadership areas. Once realization occurs, you can be more focused on leadership for work, self, family and humanitarian. There is no right order to achieve these four items or any right way to lead. It doesn’t matter if you choose self first and humanitarian second, or family first and work second.


Why wouldn’t you want to be a better co-worker, better friend, better spouse, better parent, better humanitarian? Instead of being afraid to lead or believing we lack a title to lead, why not simply lead? Only you are responsible for the way, the truth and the life of your leadership. Choose a path, embrace the journey and become the holistic leader you’re meant to be.

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