Leading Blog






09.21.07

The Need for Reflection

Leadership Nuggets

We need organizational greatness, but we can’t wait for the single leader to build, rally, and command an organization. We need leadership distributed throughout our organizations. Steep hierarchies have given way to flat, distributed organizations. Furthermore, we need these distributed leaders to possess an understanding of the organization’s goals and to have the skills to move their part of the organization toward those goals in this environment of speed and change. We need leaders who can move their organization in an agile fashion within the bigger picture and toward the bigger goals. We need leaders who know their strengths and weaknesses and can work with others who supplement those strengths and offset those weaknesses. This kind of deep learning and self-strategic awareness cannot exist without the skill of reflecting.

We reflect in order to learn from past successes and failures, weigh options for our future against some underlying principles that rarely change, and use this knowledge for the betterment of our organization in the future. We use reflection to understand why things happened or could happen the way they do. And we use reflection to build and adhere to our integrity as leaders and organizations.

Prepared Mind of a Leader
We often think of the skill of reflecting as being applied only after we act. Reflecting backward is important and draws on the anchoring concepts of metacognition (thinking about how we think), self-regulation, and making implicit knowledge explicit. However, if what you want to develop is a Prepared Mind, it is good to develop the skill for reflecting forward as well. This requires the use of foresight as well as hindsight. Reflecting forward incorporated the skill of imagining and requires us to dig a little more deeply into our tacit and implicit knowledge before we act. This may delay action for just a little while, but it can often save us from unwise action and negative unintended consequences, help us see risk and opportunities in the situation we did not see before. If we are open to being self-critical using our skill of metacognition, we can also detect our own biases and blind spots in what we know and how we process information, so we can call on other perspectives before taking action.

Adapted from The Prepared Mind of a Leader by Bill Welter and Jean Egmon.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:03 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Leadership Nuggets



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