Self-reflection for Better Leadership

As shelter-in-place restrictions are eased by governments across the country, many of us will begin to return to activities largely absent from our daily routine over the past few months. Some of the “found” time we have had by not commuting to work, going to the gym or school, dining or visiting friends will disappear. While most would argue getting back to being active again is “all good”, our busyness may limit the time we have had to do things we don’t necessarily make time for otherwise. Like self-reflection.
Why spend time self-reflecting? Self-reflection can help you become a better leader. And we know that thoughtful leadership is especially important now as we transition to a new next.
You might wonder what self-reflection is. Or how is it different from self-awareness, a quality leaders often hear about. Another word for self-reflection is introspection. Introspection is conscious thought about our beliefs, actions, and learnings. It can help us with our mindset, our priorities, and our growth and development. Self-reflection is essential to self-awareness or, as some say, self-knowledge. Self-awareness is understanding your experiences, skills, strengths, weaknesses, triggers, motivators, stressors, and emotions.
Of course, you may feel you already know yourself well. Maybe you do. While research indicates some 95% of all individuals believe they are self-aware, only about 10-15% actually are. Why the gap? There are many reasons. For some, it is selectively learning from experience, if learning at all. Either focusing on negative feedback or arbitrarily dismissing feedback from some or all stakeholders is another. One reason for the gap stands out – limited self-reflection. Why is that? Many leaders have a bias for action, don’t see the value in self-flection, or don’t want to commit to the discipline to do self-reflection consistently.
Especially in this time of continuing uncertainty and change, taking a few minutes to begin each day reflecting on a few questions meaningful to you can help you stay motivated, focused, and intentional about your work with others. Take 15 minutes each day and choose three to five questions to consider – questions that inspire you to be your best self, both for yourself and for those you lead.
Below are a few examples of questions you might consider as you begin daily self-reflection:
• How will I live up to my purpose and values today? (If you haven’t identified your purpose and values begin there.)
• How will I support my team to be at its best today?
• What did I learn yesterday (or recently) about myself? My relationships? My profession? My priorities or values? And how can apply that learning today?
• How will I share one thing I learned to benefit someone else?
• What will I do today to enable me to move toward my desired future?
We’ve all heard it before-a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Commit to forming a new habit of self-reflection to be a better leader going forward.