Reflection is an important process for leaders
It is an old adage that managers have to operate in the area of tension between employees and the company and manage this. For example, the manager must support the employee in his development and encourage the talents in him, but must not forget his business and not himself. If you now read further specialist articles on the subject of tomorrow’s leadership and what the manager must be able to do, the question quickly arises as to how the nextleader is supposed to manage all this.
The truth is, the nextleader cannot be equally good at all tasks, but he must be aware of the requirements and his behavior in order to find his personal solution.
So for the nextleader, it’s particularly about the competence of self-reflection skills and using them more. In this context, self-reflection can be understood more concretely as reflecting on one’s own thinking and behavior. The process for reflection generally occurs in three stages:
- Develop awareness of one’s own thoughts and feelings
- Analysis of the situation and behaviors
- Development of new perspectives and alternative courses of action
Atkins, S., [&] Murphy, K. (1993). Reflection: a review of the literature.
Not everyone finds it easy to reflect on themselves, their thoughts, feelings and behaviors and often a certain hurdle must first be overcome in order to start the process of reflection. To trigger the first step, feedback is an essential part for self-reflection.
For the nextleader, feedback from the work environment is particularly important here. The 360° feedback method is well known, in which the manager receives feedback from employees, colleagues and supervisors. Employee surveys and 360° degree processes are established in many companies, but there is also the danger that these are institutionalized and do not take personal, appreciative feedback into account. Why not a face-to-face meeting between employee and supervisor every quarter? Through mutual feedback, everyone then knows where they stand. Even today, a formalized annual review is no longer sufficient.
This feedback is becoming increasingly important in the dynamic world of tomorrow, so that the nextleader recognizes why he is perceived and how. This must be analyzed and compared with the self-image of one’s own behavior, motives and values. This is the only way he or she can set the right priorities and develop the necessary solution strategies for tasks and topics that do not suit him or her.
It will not always be easy for the nextleader to implement this final step in everyday working life, which is why off-the-job training can also help to adopt new perspectives and try out developed solution strategies in a protected setting. Behavioral measures such as role-playing, simulations or other experience-based methods are particularly helpful for this purpose, with the behaviors demonstrated being reflected upon afterwards. In this way, distracting stimuli of the daily work routine are faded out and time as well as personal free space for self-reflection are created.
Because to be successful, the nextleader doesn’t have to be able to do everything, but they do have to come to terms with the limits of what is possible and the vision of what is possible, as well as their own motivation and energy to take on the leadership challenges. And that for a professional lifetime!