The Intentional Leadership Practice of Reflection

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Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn as a Leader to Better Serve and Lead

It is hard to believe, but it is already Labor day weekend. We are also well past halfway through with 2020. This Labor day has a special meaning as we look at blessings and many challenges as we start to enter different phases of reentry from this very challenging time of COVID 19, economic uncertainty, and social unrest. Change and disruption in the last seven months have dramatically affected the way our school, business, church, and dinner function. 

Leaders have learned many lessons about their own and their organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Leaders have seen what works, what doesn’t, and in fact, many old-time beliefs about work have shown to be false.

“The illiterate of the 21st century would not be those who can’t read or write but those that could not learn, unlearn and relearn”.

Alvin Toffler, Future Shock -January 1, 1971

This is especially applicable to today’s leaders who must learn, unlearn, and relearn to serve and lead their organizations.

Remember when zoom was a verb or pivot was a basketball move? 
How does a leader take in all this disruptive information to learn, unlearn, and relearn to better serve and lead their organization? 

There is an example out there  of how to learn, unlearn and relearn we used to see it on TV every day.

Remember back when we had sports? 

Good coaches used halftime to make adjustments, and great coaches adjust every day. They used an intentional practice of reflection to adjust daily and at halftime and even time outs. UCLA Great John Wooden once stated that he missed practice more than games because he used to practice to prepare to win. Bill Belichek and Lou Saban and Dabo Sweeney are examples of coaches who use daily and half time to adjust what the team knows to win. These three coaches and other greats are great examples of using reflection to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Reflection is a powerful practice to increase your leadership learning, especially at this time. It is a skill that can be learned through intentional daily practice of just 5 to 10 minutes using three steps and three questions.

4 Steps and 3 Questions You Can Ask Yourself Daily to Develop the Intentional Leadership Practice of Reflection

1. Setting and Equipment 

You will need to “carve out” some quiet time and space. This time and place could be at the end of the day when the office is quiet or before bed. It is a matter of personal choice. I find that practicing leadership reflection works better for me at the end of the workday. It allows me then to close the office and go home when I am done.

A second benefit of doing reflection at days end is it allows me to feel ready for the next day. Consider it a time out. It is also important to have a way to write down your thoughts. A pen and notebook are best to write your thoughts. Actually, writing down thoughts in a journal or notebook is like taking notes in a seminar; it increases your learning. Mary Kay Ash, who founded Mary Kay Cosmetics, often said the weakest ink was better than the strongest memory.

2. Process

Take a deep breath and clear your head and write out your response to these three questions:

What did I do or learn to add value to those I lead?
What could I have done better?
What 3-5 things can I do tomorrow to serve and lead?

3. Review Your Responses and Commit to Act on Them Tomorrow

4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat Daily

The successful development of an intentional leadership reflection practice, like any other skill, requires commitment and practice.

“Practice makes permanent.”

Nicki Keohouho-the founder of the Direct Selling World Alliance

“An event reflected upon becomes an insight for future action.”

John Maxwell-a leadership expert

I would add that an event not reflected upon becomes a fading memory, and we may have to relearn the lessons later.

“Leaders who exhibit they are learning model learning for their teams and build trust.”

KouzesJames M., 1945- and Barry Z., Posner. 2017. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Jim’s research shared in A Wiley Publications webinar states that leaders who take time to reflect are more innovative, energetic, and focused.

The Leadership Question for you; are you willing to practice reflection 3-5 minutes a day to learn, unlearn, and relearn to better serve and lead?

John Hackett, Ed. D

John Hackett, Ed. D is a servant leader who helps people and organizations move from where they are to where they want to be. John is an accomplished and experienced coach, trainer, writer, and leader in a variety of educational and other nonprofit and direct sales settings. He is a growing, learning entrepreneur in coaching and training who is passionate about equipping leaders to develop other leaders to serve. John is a certified trainer and coach with the Direct Selling World Alliance. John is a coach for the FUSE Business Training and a member of the John Maxwell team!


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