Learning to be an effective leader is a continuing process. As a manager or organisational leader, you must keep reflecting on your skills, strengths, and shortcomings to identify areas and opportunities for improvement. You may already be doing this in an unstructured manner. However, developing a systematic process for self-reflection can help you accelerate your professional growth and the success of your team and organisation.
Here are seven structured steps to improve your management skills through self-reflection.
- Invest in building rapport with your team:
The kind of rapport you share with your team says a lot about your qualities as a leader. When leaders are close to their teams, it makes it easier for the latter to trust the former. It also helps the team work in sync towards common goals.
One way to build rapport is to have regular check-in sessions with your team. Use these sessions to seek their feedback on your management style and decision-making. Create a psychologically safe culture where your team-mates can tell you that your decisions may be wrong, without the fear of being rejected or isolated for doing so.
2. Look towards your peer network for support:
Having access to a network of other leaders from various industries and walks of life offers an excellent opportunity to reflect on your skills as well as learn from others. Conferences, panel discussions, symposiums, and meet-ups offer a platform to exchange ideas and unique perspectives. They also give you insights into the experiences of others who may have dealt with similar business challenges. This community exchange exercise is often very insightful and can help you move forward if you’re feeling stuck.
3. Develop your professional knowledge:
Regularly updating your skillset and knowledge are vital for professional success. As a leader, you have to stay up to date with the newest trends and changes affecting your field. Enrolling into skill enhancement sessions and workshops is a great way to stay ahead of the learning curve. It’s also a great opportunity to meet and interact with other senior leaders and to learn from them.
4. Perform periodic self-audits:
Doing a self-audit enables you to examine your own working styles and ways of dealing with challenges. Set aside time once every couple of months to check in with yourself and do a SWOT analysis of the preceding two months. Doing this system helps you pinpoint specific issues you need to work on – e.g., procrastination, inadequate delegation, lack of a healthy routine or stress management, and so on. It also highlights the areas that you need to develop further – such as your technology skills or negotiation skills.
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5. Reach out to a professional:
If you find yourself feeling stuck or unable to take a step forward in a certain direction, you can also consider reaching out to professionals. Mental health professionals, life coaches, habit coaches, etc. are all trained to help leaders navigate the challenges they face. Consulting an expert can greatly help you clarify your doubts, overcome your inhibitions, and sort your thoughts in a healthy and effective manner.
6. Value perseverance over perfection:
Leaders often veer towards perfection in their lives. But as the saying goes, one should not let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good’. Being unable to achieve perfection also causes demotivation and can make you feel like giving up altogether. During such times it’s important to remind yourself that making slow progress is better than none at all. Consistency and perseverance are the keys that lead you to success ultimately.
7. Keep a journal:
Journaling is a proven and effective habit for self-reflection. Recording your day allows you to streamline your thoughts and identify recurring patterns. It also helps immensely with overthinking and helps you put things into perspective. You can also use journaling prompts -- i.e., reflective questions – to help you think deeply about a problem you’re facing and to come up with insights that will help you reflect better.