New York City, NY

Personal Command

Bill Abbate

Do you know what it takes to be in command of your life? It takes more than saying or thinking you are in control. Let’s look at four areas that help you take control of yourself and put you in a position to help others do the same.

What is personal command?

If you are not in command of your life, how can you expect to take charge of anything else?

One of the biggest challenges in business is to raise effective leaders. Unfortunately, too many people who are in leadership roles have little or no experience and training. But they must get experience somehow, so we thrust them into positions where they are in over their heads.

As for the training, that may or may not come. If you are in such a situation, best take the matter into your own hands and find a way to grow.

Without leaders who can lead, how can any company remain effective and functional, much less profitable?

What does it take to become a leader, and how can you tell if someone is ready to take a leadership role? You can start by evaluating their personal command.

Personal command is not to be confused with some businesses’ outdated “command and control” method. That is an entirely different subject.

What is personal command, and what does it mean to you and your leadership abilities? It is all about you and your command of yourself. It is the kind of command that enables you to lead well. After all, if you are not in command of yourself, how can you lead others?

“Those who can command themselves command others.” William Hazlitt (1778–1830)

Four areas of personal command

There are at least four areas of command in which every leader should excel. If you question whether or not you are a leader, check out this article: Yes, You Are a Born Leader! Once you read it, you will see that everyone is a leader in some respect.

Four areas all of us can work on to grow in our personal command include:

  • Maturity
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-motivation
  • Communication

Let’s look briefly at each.


Maturity is about the acceptance of responsibility. Your level of maturity directly correlates to the amount of responsibility you are willing to accept.

For example, you must care for your family as a married adult. The more you accept this responsibility, the more mature you are. Likewise, the more mature you are, the more respect you command as a spouse and parent.

The same is true for business leadership. The greater the responsibility you accept, the more mature you are as a leader and the more respect you command.

An often overlooked fact about maturity is the greater your maturity, the more others can trust and rely on you. They believe you will do what’s best for them and follow up on what you say. Such leaders show interest by ensuring everyone, including themselves, is on a growth track. The leader knows it is not just about them but also those they are responsible for and to.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader,success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch (1935–2020)

Without maturity, it is challenging to lead. However, to a mature individual, leading becomes natural, and the entire organization rises in the process.


It takes self-discipline to behave well, show respect, be mature, and lead others, right? Of course it does!

People are watching you, whether you realize it or not. They see what you do and listen to what you say. They and their work are affected by who you are and how you behave.

Who are you? Do you lack discipline in some key area? If you do, it will inevitably show up and influence what others do and how they act around you.

“Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it,whether you feel like it or not.”Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915)

To control your attitude, temperament, and interaction with others, you must develop a fair degree of self-awareness. Self-discipline (aka self-control) and self-awareness depend upon one another. Together, they serve as a significant cornerstone of emotional intelligence.


To lead, you must be out front; otherwise, how can anyone follow you? When they see you lead, they follow, and the more motivated the leader is, the more charged up the troops become.

“You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing isself-motivation.” Homer Rice (1927-present)

Think about it this way: if you are not motivated, how can you expect to motivate anyone else? To show motivation, you must remain motivated. How can you do this? Become a learner and explorer. Start each day on a mission of discovery. You can do this easily by fostering a growth mindset in your life.

You may have heard or read about the two primary types of mindsets. The first is the growth mindset, and the second is the fixed mindset.

Seeking to do better, improve, learn, and remain curious is part of the self-motivating growth mindset. Its opposite, the fixed mindset, places severe limits on a person’s life and will sap self-motivation.


As a human being, little is more important than communicating effectively. As a leader, this skill is necessary to work on and improve throughout your career and life.

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” Tony Robbins (1960-present)

Communication is about influencing others. When you communicate effectively, people are likelier to follow you as a leader. When your communication is unclear or breaks down, it creates havoc, especially in a business. The better you communicate with others, the more effectively you can influence and lead them.

Whatever you do, learn to communicate clearly, effectively, and firmly so everyone benefits.

Rate yourself and others

A simple way to gauge where you and others are in the strength of your personal command is to take the following assessment.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=no command, 10=full command), rate yourself on each of the following:

  • Maturity ________
  • Self-discipline ________
  • Self-motivation ________
  • Communication ________

Once scored, you will easily see where you can improve. Your initial score also establishes your baseline.

No one honest with themselves will ever score this assessment with a perfect 40. Even a great leader may have difficulty scoring more than 32. However you rate yourself or someone else, it will become clear what areas need improvement.

Do yourself a favor, have someone score you, score yourself, and compare the two. You will find areas of opportunity to improve for sure!

Final thoughts

Working on your maturity, self-discipline, self-motivation, and communication allows you to develop the personal command required to lead effectively. As you strengthen your command, why not help others strengthen theirs?

Set time aside weekly to develop each of the four areas to keep building your leadership abilities. I assure you, you will never regret doing so!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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