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Time for Reflection – A Critical Need for Leaders by Leah Goldstein Moses

What does it take to be a leader in the social sector? Our recent research with two different leadership programs – the MAP Leaders’ Circle program and Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership showed that one of the most critical needs of leaders is time to reflect. Many cited similar benefits from reflection: self-awareness, ability to master challenges when they come, and innovation. However, a constant, enduring challenge faced by leaders is time. How do you carve out time for reflection in a fast-paced, busy world? Here are the common strategies leaders shared – three simple ideas that you could adopt at any time:

  • Make reflection a priority, and don’t feel guilty about it. Leaders consistently said they could do their work better when they took time to reflect – so much so that they more than made up for their investment. Clearly articulate to yourself and those around you how you plan to benefit by building a more reflective practice as you make reflection a priority.
  • Create a pattern of reflection. Build a routine that works for you, whether daily, weekly or monthly. I personally have found it much easier to commit to daily and weekly practices than to monthly practices. Earlier this year, I carved out Wednesday and Friday mornings for attending to my field – the latest methods, the challenges my colleagues around the world face, etc. I read, write letters to others, and take notes for myself. When I committed to this practice, I had an accompanying intention to take one day each quarter as a mini-reflection retreat; that has not happened yet.
  • Make your reflection tools readily available. Leaders we spoke to explained that they turn to journals, a quiet space, meditation, and other tools for reflection. They also talked of the tendency to get distracted by not having their materials handy – and so they had to be disciplined about keeping them nearby. My own personal tool—a spreadsheet on my laptop—is designed to prompt me to think through four reflective questions in a format that is always nearby.

If you’d like more information on what we learned from leaders in 2011, see MAP’s great article on leadership in the 21st Century.  

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Posted: December 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Inside Groove Newsletter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »