Know your priorities, minimise surprise, and build a stronger team by asking yourself some tough questions.
Periodic self-reflection is necessary for leaders to understand the impact they are having on the world around them. Success depends on how skilfully one uses and leverages their tools, strategies, and resources. Leaders often forget that their self is their main tool; their knowledge, experience and persona is being wielded daily to deliver results. And as with every tool, this one also needs to function well and with consistency. So leaders need to stop and take stock at regular intervals. To set aside time every week for self-reflection to ask themselves whether they are on the right track, acknowledge where they are failing, what they still need to learn, own up to mistakes, and see what kind of example they are setting. It’s a method of self-improvement where you increase knowledge about the self and use that information to get better.
Evaluate the difference between intention and reality
As leader forecasting is an important part of your job and a key component of planning. It’s important you forecast accurately to achieve success. To improve this skill it’s necessary to periodically analyse your latest forecasts, compare them with results and see if your assumptions were accurate. What decision-making criteria did you employ? What aspects were accurate and which weren’t? Can you pinpoint the reason for the difference? Your intention is only as good as the results you deliver. So you need to understand the context and what transpired so as to be better prepared the next time.
Assess your inflection points
An inflection point refers to a turning point, that instance when a noticeable, important, sometimes dramatic, change occurred. It could have had either positive or negative results. Companies, teams, leaders, everyone has inflection points in their life. It’s that moment when there’s a shift in the tides. So reflex on your inflection points, those moments where your performance as a leader has turned. Was it for the better or worse? What results did they yield? What instigated those moments? What could you have done differently? And what can you learn from them?
Solicit feedback regularly
Self-assessment and reflection shouldn’t be restricted to conversations with yourself. Do regular post-mortems of your work performance and projects with people who work with you. Often you might have pinpointed a problem, but are unable to see the solution. Seek out another person’s opinion. At time we’re so wrapped up that we can’t see things about ourselves that others can see clearly and easily. This can make self-awareness a challenge, so reach out for help wherever needed. Keep yourself open to all kinds of feedback and be objective about the information provided. Remember your aim is to be constantly learning so it’s okay to not know everything. Demonstrate a willingness to learn and ask probing questions. This type of an approach also builds a transparent problem-solving culture, which benefits your team as well as your organisation.
Spot the patterns
Take a look at the big decisions you’ve made. On what criteria have you based those decisions and how have those decisions paned out? When hiring staff do you follow a certain process, and has that always worked for you? Consider whether you need to change some of the criteria so as to hire better talent. What about your training methods and processes? Are you building a strong, efficient workforce? Collate some of the early warning signs you’ve spotted with difficult employees or a poorly performing employee. How might you be able to better predict these behaviours in the future to build a stronger team?
Photograph: Katemangostar – Freepik.com