Think about your all-time favourite boss. What made them so great?
Now think about your all-time least-favourite boss. What made them not-so-great?
Consider your answers. Do they contain:
Favorable/unfavorable personality traits or habits?
Scenarios that you found had favorable/unfavorable results?
How you felt as a result of your boss's behavior, or actions?
You've just reflected on what effective leadership is according to you: the first step toward improving your own.
Let's take it one step further!
How Does This Apply To Me?
Leadership skills are soft skills: personality traits or habits.
Think about your leadership style now, just like you did with your bosses.
To improve upon and expand these skills, only you can do the work. You have to commit to sitting with yourself and your thoughts, and be radically honest with yourself.
This is the process of self-reflection.
What Should I Reflect On?
You can come up with your own questions, but consider the following to get started:
Who am I as a leader?
Who am I as a team member?
What are my values?
What is important to me?
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
What do I do to help others? Could I do more? Is helping others important to me?
What are things that other people do that help me?
How do I perceive myself?
How do others perceive me?
What Will Self-Reflection Accomplish?
Compare the concept of leadership to a house.
The front door represents self-reflection.
This is the gateway to improving any other leadership skills. You can't improve if you don't reflect!
The rooms represent foundational leadership skills:
Self-awareness: You know your strengths and weaknesses, and act with humility and confidence.
Motivation: You motivate yourself (and those around you) to work toward goals with a positive attitude.
Social skills: You communicate well, inspire others, are diplomatic and adaptable.
Self-regulation: You make informed and rational decisions, can manage your emotions, and hold yourself accountable to your values and beliefs.
Empathy: You put yourself in others' shoes, show that you care by listening, help them grow, give (and receive) feedback.
The roof represents emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is the ability to understand, manage, and respond to your own emotions and those of people around you.
Sound familiar? EQ is built upon the foundation of your other leadership skills, so it should come as no surprise that EQ is one of the most coveted leadership skills today!
Your Turn: Consider This Scenario
Harry and Draco are two managers at your company. You really like Harry but Draco's management style doesn't suit you.
Harry gives you some harsh feedback on a project that you've been working on.
At first, you're offended, but you don't want to just snap at Harry (like Draco does when things don't go his way). After taking a few minutes to cool down you realize that Harry's got a point. You decide to not take things personally.
Which leadership skill best describes how you used self-reflection to handle the situation?
A) Used self-regulation - you reflected on a negative emotion that resulted from a former boss's action, and understood that you don't want to make anyone else feel the way that you did.
B) Were empathetic - after thinking it through you took the feedback well and went in for even more advice.
C) Were motivated - you calmed yourself down and thought things through, realized that Harry was right, and you decided to go along with his idea.
D) Employed good social skills - you didn't snap at Harry straight away, you kept your cool, were diplomatic and agreeable.
Which of the above is the correct answer?
How Should I Reflect?
You can reflect anytime, anywhere:
In a paper journal
In a note on your phone
While on a walk or run
In the shower
The best way is one that works for you!
You can start small:
Dedicate 5 minutes at the end of each week. You might find the process rewarding and convert it into a daily habit!
Leadership is a decision, not a position.