In my chapter in the newly published book The Experience of Leadership by Fred Stuvek Jr., I emphasize the importance of being prepared to lead, regardless of whether you plan or desire to be a leader. One of the rules-of-thumb I discussed is the value in reflecting and being introspective. Here is an excerpt:
Carla was great at her job but did not interact much with her office colleagues. She was often the last to know new information about what was happening in the organization. Every day she brown-bagged her lunch and ate alone at her desk. Others also brown-bagged but ate together in the conference room. After reading about informal networks in the workplace and their impact on work, Carla reflected on the brown bags. She knew that she tended to be introverted and liked the quiet lunch in her office, but she wondered if it might be better to join the others in the conference room. So she tried it and to her surprise through others she became more in the loop at the office. As a result she became even better at her job.
I developed this habit of reflecting and being introspective in my youth and have continued through a lifetime. Emerging from these moments have been insights which I bounced off close friends. I have not always been successful in being a better me but taking the time to think about situations and actions increased my effectiveness. The best leaders have self-knowledge. Know yourself.
There is also a benefit to taking time to reflect and think about where you are going. As an adult I made goals and have reviewed and revised annually. This holds true also in leading organizations. We have a tendency to be reactive, not proactive.
As a young officer I realized I was spending my days reacting, not planning. I could not get ahead of the curve. One day when I came to work, I told my secretary I did not want to be disturbed, to hold all calls unless from they came from very high in my chain of command. I went into my office, closed the door, and spent the entire day in my office thinking about our mission and what my part of the organization was really about. That day I developed an idea of where I wanted us to go and how we might get there. At the next meeting with my teams, I shared my thoughts, got their thoughts and feedback. Working together, we focused on more effective, meaningful training. With better skill sets came more success at our primary mission. And with that came promotions and recognition for my teams. If you understand your priorities, you make time to reflect – on your work and your life.
Ballard, J. (2021). Be prepared to lead. In F. Stuvek, Jr., The experience of leadership: Proven examples from successful leaders (pp. 79-94). Triumvirate.
Ballard, J. (2015). Decoding the workplace: 50 keys to understanding people in organizations. Praeger.
Image modified from media kit for The Experience of Leadership courtesy of Fred Stuvek Jr.
Blog © John Ballard, PhD, 2021. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace “Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018. Available as ebook, hardback, paperback, audiobook, and audio CD. The best-selling audiobook and CD are narrated by Timothy Andrés Pabon.