Leaders need to have a vision that sustains their long-term growth & effectiveness. In order to develop and keep track of this vision, reflection is a habit that leaders must learn to incorporate into their daily lives.
What is reflection?
A good definition of reflection is: ‘something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else’. Reflective thinking, therefore, would involve understanding the effects of your work, the existence of your results, and the character of your product or service.
However, our world does not typically make space for this to happen. Have you ever scheduled ‘Reflection’ or ‘Thinking Time’ into your daily schedule?
Even though reflection is a powerful tool, not many leaders schedule it—and I think I understand why.
Leaders are people of action.
They want to finish a project, not stop and ponder their work with a cup of tea.
Leaders are busy.
Their time is in high demand and they want to be as efficient and effective with it as they can be.
This is why you must remember: the purpose of reflective thinking is not to slow you down or to cause you to go backwards and re-live the past. The purpose is to gain greater insight and clarity into your actions, so you can scale new heights in your future goals.
I find this quote from Peter Drucker very helpful – ‘Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action’.
How does reflection help you develop ‘more effective action’?
- You can re-focus on the big picture.
- You can define your purposes and goals.
- You can look at the positive, neutral and negative outcomes of your work.
- You can determine what actions are working.
So, how can you become a reflective leader?
First, you must schedule reflection until it becomes a habit. Nothing happens unless you make it happen.
- Start slow—maybe 15-30 minutes per day—and find a comfortable, quiet place that is free of distractions. You may have to start this practice outside of work time, such as during lunch or evenings, but it will pay off in the long run.
- Shut down anything that will distract you. Yes, this means social media, your phone, or your chatty coworker
- Determine what questions you need to ask yourself each day during reflection time.
So, how can you incorporate quiet reflection into your daily life? What is a comfortable environment for you that will allow you to pause and reflect? What distractions do you need to eliminate?
Do you know what questions you need to ask?