A Time for Reflection
The holidays are the time of year when loved ones gather together to celebrate festivities, give gifts, and create lasting memories. It’s also a great time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished over the year and think about who you want to be in the new year.
Self reflection is like is like looking in a mirror and assessing yourself and your ways of working. It can enhance focus, decrease stress, and helps uncover deeper meanings behind your everyday experiences, thoughts and interactions. For leaders, reflecting helps you to identify new areas for growth and where you can develop effective skills to lead your team more effectively and approach your job more strategically, rather than continuing to do things as you’ve previously done them. It is about questioning, in a positive way, what you do and why you do it and then deciding whether there is a better, or more efficient, way of doing it in the future.
In her article on the role of reflection, Cynthia Roberts Ph. D. writes that reflection is a continuous learning process that facilitates personal and professional growth through self-discovery. Reflection focuses on building leadership muscle in the following areas:
- Leadership development Adivisor, Beth Miller at Executive Veloicty, suggests that taking a step back to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses both within yourself and at the organizational level will help you become more aware of the possible solutions for performance improvement.
- Dr. Miller also suggests that frequent self-reflection trains you to become more perceptive and understanding of your emotions as well as those of others. This, in turn, strengthens your effectiveness as a leader by enabling you to control your reactive and disruptive emotions in order to tackle problems rationally and with a level head.
- While it may sound counter-intuitive, Col. Eric G. Kail, professor emeritus in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership wrote in the Washington Post that self-reflection is as much of an outward process as it is inward-focused. When we don’t take the time to reflect, there is the risk of becoming self-involved and self-serving without considering the impact our actions have on others.
- A clear understanding of your values and goals at a personal and organizational level facilitates decision-making in difficult times and raises the overall quality of your leadership.
Guide to Using Reflection for Leadership Development
To become a more effective leader, it is important to stop and think about what leadership means to you, your key strengths, and ways in which you can further develop your leadership abilities. Experts at Acorn Leadership provide the following self-discovery leadership prompts:
- What does being a “successful” leader look like to you?
- What qualities do you admire about your fellow leaders? How can you develop these qualities?
- What are your best leadership skills, and how have you used these skills effectively in the past?
- What are your core beliefs, and how do your actions reflect these values?
- What is your passion, and how do you incorporate this into your leadership style?
- What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis, and what do you do to overcome them?
- What are your most common sources of stress? What strategies do you use to cope with these stressors, and is there a better way you could be handling them?
- How well do you work with others? How could your teamwork ability be improved?
Reflection is best applied as a continuous process and by questioning ourselves and learning from our success and defeats, we will grow both professionally and personally. You will find that reflection becomes easier with practice, and the result brings about increased development through self-awareness and action.