The Reflective Leader

I like to garden. In fact, I love to garden and have been doing it since I was 11 years old.

When I’m outside tying up tomatoes, pulling weeds or planting seeds I get some of my best ideas for the business or in my personal life. It’s a time when I can be reflective because of the solitude and silence I experience. I’m sure everyone has their own means of reflection.

As leaders, it’s easy to second guess things. It’s easy to think we could have done things differently and we think about our regrets.

The pace at which we all live our lives doesn’t always allow for reflective thinking, but I think it’s essential for leadership success.

Let me tell you why.

I’m an action person. I like to keep moving and when I take on a project, I really take it on and see it through fruition. To a fault, I can over-manage things (some would use the words “I need to have control”) but nonetheless, I tend to move quickly with things. Sometimes, I move too fast.

Stepping back, seeing things from a different perspective and allowing ideas to flow into one’s mind is hugely important, yet few of us sit still long enough to let that happen.

Reflective thinking gives us time. It gives us time to think about our past, current and future decisions. This in turn builds our confidence to understand if we’ve got things right. More so, when faced with a similar decision in the future, you’ll be able to make a fast decision because you’ve already thought things through.

There’s more though. Intuition, that tingling feeling that comes from the gut, but it’s there for a reason; because you’ve been through something before and you instinctively know what to do.

Reflective thinking gives you that advantage with a heightened sense of intuition. Leadership is about making decisions and those decisions can be based on intuition in part or whole.

I can be hasty in my decisions and through reflective thinking I can slow things down a bit, reconsider my position and perhaps see things in an entirely different order and circumstance. I gain more perspective in reflection (pulling out those weeds!) and find that I make better decisions as a results.

I think about a lot of things during reflective thinking;

  • What have I accomplished today?
  • How will it help me grow as a person? Father? Leader?
  • Did I lead by example today?
  • Did I inspire people today?
  • Did I act with kindness, integrity and respect?
  • Did I communicate in the best way to those around me?
  • Where did I let myself down?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What WILL I do better?

Reflective thinking is just that; it’s not about bouncing thoughts and ideas off others. It’s about looking deep inside of yourself and asking yourself questions.

After you ask yourself the questions, it’s your turn to answer them on your own.

It doesn’t matter how you find the time to do your reflective thinking, but it’s an important aspect of becoming the sort of leader you strive for. It is an invaluable tool for personal growth and betterment and it’s easy enough to do.

Simply set aside the time to do it.

Taken from the book, “The Positive Leader With a Big Impact – Business Lessons Learned To Make Money and Have Fun”, by Bing J. Carbone available on Amazon.com (<–click)

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