Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

It’s two in the morning, and you are awake. Your brain is jumping around, reflecting on and processing the conversations and events of the day. It is often in these moments that we have the most clarity as to how our behaviours and actions have impacted our leadership.

It is commonly accepted that self-reflection is essential for effective leadership. Through looking inward we come to know our unique perspective, which is the foundation for understanding the driving forces behind our behaviours, our relationships, and our choices. More importantly, this understanding is the catalyst for the ability to see perspectives beyond our own.

The reality is that our demanding schedules and workloads leave little opportunity to take time and energy to self-reflect. Consequently, many leaders are missing a critical component in developing their leadership performance. When we reflect, we take a deep dive into the details of an experience, including the reasons for the event, our response, and the meaning we make. Additionally, we discover what we could do differently in the future in create improved outcomes. 

The challenge for leaders is how to commit to self-reflection on a regular basis. Many successful leaders keep a journal, which is a great strategy for supporting the commitment to self-reflection. However, if keeping a journal does not resonate with you, be creative. Many people find that their best reflection happens while they are working out. Others find that storytelling or art are great approaches. The key is to find something that will be enjoyable and meaningful for you.

Whichever form you choose for your self-reflection practice, be intentional, be honest, and be open to new ideas. Here are a few questions to help you to challenge yourself:

  • What do the events of the day say about my assumptions, values and beliefs?
  • What is the best thing I did today that supported my work?
  • What did I do today that served others?
  • How did I connect with my employees and colleagues?
  • What is constraining my ideas about what is possible?
  • What is one thing I could do differently tomorrow to be a better leader?