The Benefits of Reflective Leadership

Deborah Wilson

reflective leadership 2023

As the Christmas and New Year break approaches, I’m writing this article at a time when we don’t typically have all that much free time for reflection. Many people are limping towards the end of the year, and while I understand the pressures of being time-poor, reflection and quality leadership go hand-in-hand. Before I continue, I want to share an example of when reflective leadership made all the difference in my own career.

Reflective leadership helped me understand an all-important truth: that within any leadership group, we can all be on the same page, but on a different line. Why and when does this happen? I have no doubt that each of us has different motivators and areas we have a vested interest in, not to mention the times when I see leaders who are just at odds with their colleagues. As leaders, we need to think enterprise-wide (in other words, about the entire business rather than simply our own function) and leave our unconscious bias at the door. There is a difference between being good at a particular role and being an effective leader.

What is reflective leadership?

I believe the most effective leadership style encourages self-awareness, continuous learning, and consideration of one’s own actions and decisions. The days of ‘my way or the highway’ approaches are long gone if your company is interested in attracting and retaining top talent in your industry. In addition to self-awareness, ongoing learning and consideration, reflective leadership sees leaders:

  • Regularly engaging in introspection (being mindful of your thoughts, feelings and ideas)
  • Assessing whether they are in alignment with their values
  • Maintaining an awareness of their strengths and other areas where improvement is required
  • Examining how their leadership impacts all facets of an organisation, from its employees to its bottom line

One of my recent articles explored why soft skills are non-negotiable. In that article, I refer to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report. If you’ve looked at the report, you’ll notice that the top skills of 2023 align with key components of reflective leadership.

Top 5 Skills of 2023  

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Creative thinking
  3. Resilience, flexibility, and agility
  4. Motivation and self-awareness
  5. Curiosity and lifelong learning
3 ways to enhance your reflective leadership skills

Journaling

Journaling is one of the easiest, most accessible and cost-effective ways of raising your awareness levels and ensuring you are aligned with your values. If you like the idea of writing but need help figuring out where to start, use prompts to help. Here are a few easy prompts to get you started:

  • What did I do well today from a leadership perspective?
  • What could I have done better today from a leadership perspective?
  • Was my behaviour today in alignment with my values? Why/Why not?

What I love most about journaling is that you only need 10 minutes a day, and you can write anywhere (in between meetings is a good one, I find).

Be mindful of your communication style

Effective communication requires both speaking and active listening. As leaders, we must be clear when conveying our thoughts and expectations. Those around us shouldn’t have to guess what we require and expect. Most people reading this already have a jam-packed meeting schedule. Still, scheduling regular meetings with staff members is important for creating a culture of open dialogue and feedback. If you are in tune with your team, more often than not, you’ll be able to sense when something feels a little off.

Invest in yourself

A willingness to learn continuously is more important than ever as we head into 2024. The world and workplaces are evolving at faster rates than ever. While it can be challenging to carve out time for training and learning opportunities when over-scheduled, doing so is non-negotiable. You may change companies, you may switch roles, you may find yourself in a completely different industry, but regardless of your circumstances, you take all of your skills with you. This is what I call your ‘career currency.’

Find a way to learn what works for you, whether that looks like online, self-paced training using a platform like OnTalents Amplifi (need a hyperlink) or in-person training. What’s most important is that you constantly seek to learn and improve so that you are future-proofing yourself. Many things, including work, are somewhat out of our control. Investing and working on yourself is something you can control. As is leaning into reflective leadership.

Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose. Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746. www.ontalent.com.au

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