Throughout 2015, our monthly themes have focused on various leadership development topics. Our goal was to provide our readers with insights, “how to’s,” and general advice in order to provoke action to shift behaviors. As 2015 draws to a close and we look forward to the coming year, now is a good time to reflect. What have you learned about yourself this year? What worked well? Where can you improve? Think about the skills you have honed over the last year, your impact on your team, your organization and others, and your progress towards your personal and professional career goals.
Reflection is a continuous learning process that facilitates personal and professional growth through self-discovery. 1 Reflection focuses on building leadership muscle in the following areas:
- 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. 2
- Emotional intelligence. 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. 2
- While it may sound counter-intuitive, 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. 3
- 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. 2
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. As the year closes, consider the following self-discovery leadership prompts: 4
- 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?
Although the end of the year is an important time to look back to enable us to plan forward, reflection is best applied as a continuous process. By questioning ourselves and learning from our success and defeats, we will grow both professionally and personally.
We here at TLD Group have had time to reflect, as well. As we move into 2016, we will introduce a new monthly leadership platform in the form of video blogs. Exciting developments ahead…Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!
1 Roberts, C. (2008). Developing future leaders: The role of reflection in the classroom. Journal of Leadership Education, 7(1). 116-130.
2 Miller, B. A. (2014). Looking Inwards: How Self-Reflection Strengthens Leaders. LinkedIn Pulse. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140910151050-240215-looking-inwards-how-self-reflection-strengthens-leaders
3 Kail, E. (2012, March). Leadership character: The role of reflection. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-insights/post/leadership-character-the-role-of-reflection/2011/04/04/gIQAdJOr1R_blog.html
4 Individual Leadership Reflection Question. Acorn Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.acornleadership.com/assets/individual-leadership-reflection-questions2.pdf