Self-leadership: A paradoxical core of organizational behavior

January 2019 | ,

This review focuses on the paradoxical concept of self-leadership—defined as a comprehensive self-influence process capturing how individuals motivate themselves to complete work that is naturally motivating or work that must be done but is not naturally motivating—as a fundamental process that challenges many traditional assumptions in organizational psychology and organizational behavior. We first present a historical review that traces the roots of self-leadership to early psychological theory and research. We next briefly summarize research related to self-leadership at both the individual and team levels of analysis. We then discuss four paradoxes associated with self-leadership: the paradox of self-leadership depletion and strengthening, the paradox of self-leadership through collaboration, the paradox of me-but-not-you self-leadership, and the paradox of needing self-leadership to improve self-leadership. We conclude with guidelines for future research and practice.



  • Greg Stewart
  • Charles Manz


Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior

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