Unlock Your Leadership Potential with Self-Reflection
- 24 Best Leadership Practices | Part 23 of 24 -
They say hindsight is 20/20. However, hindsight alone will not drive 20/20 vision but rather the self-reflection that must go along with it. Simply, without self-reflection any past success or failure will be nothing more than a game of chance. As such, past experience should not dictate future decision-making just as past success does not equal future success. Instead, the only way to truly continue the never ending journey of continuous improvement while also ensuring one doesn’t fall prey to decision-making biases is to continually self-reflect. As Jim Collins noted, “The single biggest danger in business and life, other than outright failure, is to be successful without being resolutely clear about why you are successful in the first place.” And, as Peter Drucker noted, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
Accordingly, the question a leader must always be asking is how can “I” and “the company” be better today than we were yesterday. Such a mindset requires throwing off any notion of personal pride and “arrival” status. Indeed, visionary companies achieve extraordinary outcomes because they refuse to be satisfied. Simply, if it’s not broken, they believe they can and should go make it better. Consequently, the entire enterprise – beginning with the leader – must have the endurance of a marathon runner, the muscular of a sprinter, and the mental fortitude to embrace a race with no finish but rather a path of constant reinvention and change. Remember, the leadership journey has no finish line but instead has an exponential path of growth that will allow one to travel as far as they’re willing to continually improve and self-reflect.
Ultimately, self-reflection (1) ensures emotional awareness and humility, (2) allows for the abandonment of biases and personal complacency which is the death of continuous improvement, and (3) allows a leader to be comfortable in one’s skin because the leadership journey is not about becoming someone else but instead about becoming your best self. Indeed, self-reflection is the enemy of pride, the beginning of emotional awareness, and the gateway for future success. As Confucius stated, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” As visionary companies seek to constantly improve so too must visionary leaders also be striving to constantly improve. Leaders must never be satisfied with past success but rather understand that future success, wisdom, and learnings can only come from a healthy does of self-reflection - the gateway to humility, grounding, and emotional awareness.
To summarize, self-reflection is the fuel that ensures leaders maintain a commitment to relentless self-improvement. Accordingly, leaders must always be taking an honest, self-reflective look back at his or her mistakes instead of assigning blame to people, circumstances, or worse, feeling they’ve actually already accomplished their best and thus don’t need any self-improvement. Simply, if you want 20/20 vision never forget to self-reflect. Otherwise, you’ll be wandering around aimlessly, playing a game of chance with not only your life but also the lives of those you’re leading. Remember, without self-reflection any wins or losses will be passing noise. Instead, turn passing noise into value unlocking insights that empower the mind, soul, and spirit. Indeed, self-reflection reflects the true soul of the leader. As such, plan with the mind, lead from the heart, and reflect with the soul.
Read the other best leadership practices HERE.
24 Best Leadership Practices
- Series Overview -
The following article is Part 23 of a 24 part series on leadership (See all 24 best leadership practices HERE). To summarize, leadership is everyone’s business. Moreover, leadership abilities are not some innate talent that some were either born with or not but rather is a highly learnable skill. As such, everyone has the potential to become a great leader as long as one embraces a mindset of continuous improvement. Simply, leadership is not so much about inherent gifts and raw talent but rather the emotional awareness, humility, and perseverance to understand that leadership is a lifelong journey that is never mastered. Indeed, aspiring leaders must acquire the endurance of a marathoner, the musculature of a sprinter, and the mental fortitude to embrace that there is never a finish line but rather an unending goal of continuous transformation.
Ultimately, the leadership journey is not about becoming someone else but instead is about becoming one's best self so that in turn one can help others become their best self. And, while there are many facets that go into successful leadership we have identified 24 best leadership practices all of which are grouped into one of three categories, namely (1) inspire, (2) empower, and (3) innovate (see all 24 practices HERE).
- INSPIRE: To inspire action, great leaders appeal to people's hearts more than their minds. Simply, visionary leaders plan with the mind, lead with the heart, and reflect with the soul.
- EMPOWER: Great leaders empower those they are leading while simultaneously creating a collaborative culture that promotes the notion that together we can accomplish anything as long as we don't care who gets the credit.
- INNOVATE: Visionary leaders embrace change and understand that the term "good enough" is used by the lazy to justify inaction. As such, great leaders disrupt themselves and their companies before others do it for them.
Leadership is the greatest race one will ever run – one without a finish line but also one with an exponential ceiling for those that embrace change, growth, and learning. While the level of employee talent may determine the potential of an organization it is the leader that ultimately unlocks that potential and determines the success of both the organization and its people. Although no leader will be a master at each of the proposed 24 leadership practices, awareness is often the greatest agent for change and continuous improvement. As such, we hope the proposed practices will be of service to you in maximizing not only your leadership potential but also the potential of those around you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joshua Seedman is the founder and chairman of PNI Consulting, a management consulting firm that specializes in global transformations. He has over 20 years of operating and general management experience with expertise in organizational transformations, customer experience, employee engagement, digital transformations, sales & marketing, operational turnarounds, culture/change management, and high-stakes negotiations. His experience includes executive roles within F500 companies, top-tier consulting leadership (McKinsey & Company), over 10 years of global P&L ownership, and corporate lawyer (Davis Polk & Wardwell). He received his MBA from Kellogg School of Management and his Juris Doctor (cum laude) from Northwestern University School of Law.