Most leaders would never ignore key performance indicators that help them monitor the health of their department or organization. But too many might skip another important leadership task: taking time for self-reflection. Don’t be fooled. Self-reflection is powerful and can drive high performance.

Self-Reflection Strengthens Self-Awareness

Successful leaders must be honest with themselves about their strengths and weaknesses, values and behaviors and the methods they use to influence others. As leadership expert John Maxwell said, “To grow yourself, you must know yourself.”

This is often a challenging process, because who really enjoys facing the reality they failed or could have performed better? Regardless of the discomfort of true self-reflection, leaders who make self-reflection a consistent practice are better equipped to make changes to perform better in the future.

Self-reflection is humbling. But it’s also empowering and invigorating. It can allow a leader the insight to course correct for the coming days, weeks, years and even decade. Reflection is critical for learning, but it can often be the first thing to fall by the wayside in our hectic professional lives.

In an interesting paradox, taking the time to pause for self-reflection can accelerate the achievement of your goals because you will be more effective. Ultimately, you are striving for the beneficial tango of reflection and adaptation.

Reflecting and then not using what you learned to adapt can be chalked up to learning for learning’s sake rather than to propel performance. Leaders should self-reflect, learn from their actions including what was effective and what was not, and then adjust their actions for the future in ways that will drive them to achieve their goals.

How to Incorporate Self-Reflection

Self-reflection requires commitment. No matter how busy you are, carve out a few minutes each day for self-reflection. Strong leadership begins by you knowing what, why and how you’re doing yourself.

According to study published in Journal of Applied Psychology, leaders care about their success in their role. Daily reflection helps them see where they are already successful and to be intentional about areas that need improvement.

When you take time each day for self-reflection you must ask yourself some deliberate questions designed to give you insight about your work. Here’s a list to get you started:

  1. How were my actions in alignment with my integrity, values and priorities? What could I do to improve my alignment?
  2. What are things that I can let go of since I can’t control them? What is harming my focus, direction and perspective?
  3. How am I progressing on the goals I have set for myself?
  4. What worked and what worked better than expected?
  5. What didn’t work as I intended? What can I change?

On an annual basis, there are some additional questions that are important to reflect on including:

  1. Where did I spend the most time and energy? Are there tasks I’m still doing that I shouldn’t be?
  2. What were the biggest highs and lows of the last year?
  3. What would success look like to me in the coming year?

Self-reflection isn’t about getting stuck in the negative. Rather it’s about taking ownership of what transpired to learn and grow from the experience and then drive performance.

Take it from Steve Jobs who said, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” I would add that the same message applies to leadership.

I work with leaders every day on how to improve their own performance. If you’re interested in learning how I can support you in achieving your goals, please call 707-217-7660 or contact us today to set up an appointment!