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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Sep 16, 2022


Leadership begins with reflecting - taking a step back to examine broader trends to then plan for the future.



Welcome to episode 155 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership.

Today we are continuing our series on essential leadership practices. Last time around we looked at the two most common leadership mistakes - Directing and Avoiding. This week we explore where leadership all begins with the practice of Reflecting.

Leadership starts with you. The leadership practice of Reflecting involves assessing the environment you’re operating in to determine a compelling vision, together with clear goals, objectives and plans. Reflecting is about two key leadership questions - where are we going and how are we getting there. It’s about developing a vision for the future.

Reflecting starts by examining the environment. We naturally tend to focus on short-term threats. These grab our attention, meaning we often miss opportunities that are right in front of us. We also fail to focus on longer-term threats and opportunities. This context is central to then developing a compelling vision for the work we undertake. Purpose and meaning matter. They guide people when things are unclear.

So to dial up the Reflecting leadership practice, take time to identify immediate and long-term opportunities and threats. Scan the environment. Speak to others. Explore economic, social and market trends. You then want to develop a compelling vision for the work you undertake. The key word here is compelling. A compelling vision should draw people in. We can then focus on clear goals and objectives. Goals are like a flag on a hill - where we are headed. Finally, we develop and share a plan to achieve goals - how we are going to get there.

While leadership starts with you, you can involve the team in the practice of Reflecting. However you should be careful with “what do you think we should be doing” as that can freak people out. They might rightly assume you should have some idea of where the team is headed.

It makes sense to use Reflecting with a new team where we are basically setting things up from scratch. It can also be a great approach in a changing environment and context - keeping an eye on the horizon to see what might unfold. Or perhaps there is a new organisational vision you need to translate into your area to make clear what it means for your people. Reflecting can also be helpful when you’re noticing misalignment and unclear priorities.

Of course, Reflecting assumes you know what you’re doing. Be cautious of Reflecting when you lack the required experience and knowledge. If you’re new into the industry or location, spend lots of time listening first before setting goals or changing too much. 

Over the next few weeks we will explore five other effective leadership practices. The Leadership Practices Assessment is completely free, and you will find a link to it in the show notes. Have a great week.

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