Building a Mindset of Reflective Leadership

The first in a series of articles on the topic of reflective leadership.

If you ever wondered, there are 10,080 minutes in a week. And if you wonder why this matters, let me share the Reader’s Digest version of what prompted me to do the math …

Throughout my career, I’ve been blessed to be in roles through which I advised all types and levels of organizational leaders. This has involved assessing, training and developing leadership effectiveness and, for more than a decade, formally coaching leaders in diverse growth and development topics (e.g., delegating, communication, giving feedback and goal setting). In more recent years, my work with more than 1,500 leaders in various industries has focused more on the topic of building leadership effectiveness. Why?

While addressing more traditional leadership challenges will always be part of my work, I have observed that the difference between good leaders and truly influential leaders is often their ability to build and leverage a mindset of reflective leadership.

What does it mean to leverage a mindset of reflective leadership?

To begin with, I have found that an influential leader spends more time reflecting, which means to give thought to, or to consider. That’s quite different from many “good” leaders who are more prone to react, which means to answer, shout out or be emotional. Leaders who establish a foundation of reflection minimize or eliminate the need to quickly “answer, shout out or be emotional.”

In working with leaders, I ask them to consider these three questions, which are foundational to developing a reflective leadership style:

• What is important for me to know in this situation?
• What is important for me to ask in this situation?
• What is important for me to share in this situation?

One or more of these questions becomes the basis for initial reflection, and the answer(s) help leaders reach for their “coaching leader” hat vs. their “telling leader” hat. This is easier said than done – it requires discipline and practice. Even so, the benefits of being influential versus being just good are tremendous.

So what about the 10,080 minutes in a week?

I often ask leaders or groups of leaders how many of the 10,080 minutes in a week they spend in reflection. By far, the majority say they spend less than 60 minutes – that’s less than 1% of their time! So now, please reflect on this: How many minutes a week are you in reflection on the topic of your leadership effectiveness?

Please watch for upcoming articles covering a different leadership topic and how leveraging a mindset of reflective leadership can make you not just a good leader but a truly influential one.

Gary Walljasper
Experienced in strategic talent management, human capital planning, development, coaching, strategic planning and other leadership areas, Gary has over 25 years of human resources leadership and consulting experience. He earned a B.A. degree from Wartburg College.
More articles by: Gary Walljasper