This time of year is natural for reflection, taking stock of the past and establishing goals and making plans for the future. It’s a perfect time to set your intention for the year ahead. When managing change—in your organization or your personal life—reflection represents an opportunity to assign meaning to the successes and missteps of the past year, enabling you to become more resilient and steadier as you embark on a new one.
Taking time to reflect is one of the most important things I do as a leader. Whether I’m looking to make big changes in the coming year or just thinking about how I want to approach this year’s team building event, clearing the time and space to really listen to myself helps me to create clarity and enables new connections that allow me to be an effective leader.
Here are some of the questions I always find helpful as I take time to reflect and begin to look forward:
What are your unique strengths and how will you build on those? As a believer in an appreciative, strengths-based approach to life, I know there is great value in understanding and building on your own strengths (and those of your team), rather than focusing on gaps. Take the time to “inventory” your personal and your organizational strengths and think about how you can amplify those to benefit your leadership style and your business’ bottom line.
What problems do you really need to solve in the year ahead? Or even the next few months? Too often I see people focused on what outcomes they must deliver or what projects they have to get done. I’m asking a bigger question. Whether you have challenges with personnel, customer service, organizational development or something else, prioritize the difficulties that, if left unchecked, will have the biggest negative impact on your business.
What would need to be true to solve those problems? This question enables expansive thinking. Business rarely conforms to the ideal, which makes plotting a problem-solving course even more difficult. Consider how your organization, in the most ideal circumstances, will mitigate challenges in the new year. Will solving problems require a more connected and engaged team? A new approach to marketing? Letting go of something you’ve “always done”? Then, how will you as a leader implement the changes needed to solve the challenges ahead?
How can you best “show up” for your organization? Creating resiliency and managing change is a daily priority for business leaders. Taking time and energy for reflection is one of the ways leaders can “show up” in support of their organizational goals, hopes, and dreams. I recently came across a metaphor about leaders “getting on the balcony”—taking yourself out of the day-to-day and focusing efforts on the business instead of in the business. By standing on the balcony, leaders can gain valuable perspective and assess how the organization is working instead of just what the business is “working on.”
Self-reflection is not just an exercise for your business; it’s like scheduled maintenance for your leadership ability. With the fast-paced speed of life and work, it takes planning and diligence to ensure you are making the time to do it. The goal of reflection is not about generating a to-do list what you will do next—it’s about creating time and space, thinking deeply, and clarifying how you will approach the future with an open mind and a mental roadmap for navigating personal and professional pitfalls. Are you ready?