Building Blocks of Reflective Leadership – Determination

Building reliable habits of personal reflection is not easy. Like mastering any new skill, learning to hang the mirror involves no small amount of setbacks and failure. We might maintain a sense of objectivity for a time, then lose it at a bad turn of events or sharp verbal jab. We might restrain emotional responses when the going is easy, …

Building Blocks of Reflective Leadership – Humility

Few spheres of human activity are more driven by “results” than the world of business. Visible success is the coin of the realm, and confidence, bravado, even self-aggrandizement are pervasive. Humility, then, stands as a somewhat counter-intuitive characteristic of truly outstanding leaders. Humility is certainly one of the more nuanced facets of leadership. In part, this has to do with …

Building Blocks of Reflective Leadership – Detachment

All of us are attached to particular views of the world and given ways of approaching it. We know that a project is pointless and we have no time for those who think otherwise. We know that a favored employee is a gem, regardless of performance reviews suggesting the contrary. We have our positions and, regardless of circumstances, we are …

Leadership, Mindfulness, and Meditation

How many times have you been in the car, wrapped in thoughts of the day, and found yourself driving somewhere other than where you intended? Defaulting to familiar routines in the absence of conscious thought has uses in life, not the least enabling us to navigate a highly multitasking world. But “auto piloting” in the human sphere ensures that our …

The Nuts and Bolts of Collective Reflection

Reflective leaders are distinguished by patterns of regular self-assessment and analysis. Reflective organizations employ similar mechanisms of collective reflection and shared stock-taking. But how are such structures established in the workplace? At the heart of any robust system of organization-wide assessment is the collection of data related to workplace culture and perceptions. Drawing from both quantitative and qualitative evaluations, metrics …

“In Relationship” : The Forgotten Dimension of Employment

What exactly is a job? A person could work a lifetime without ever explicitly considering such a question. But its importance should not be underestimated, for actions are guided and shaped (as well as constrained and limited) by below-the-line understandings of what one is actually doing day after day. In the most basic formulation, a job could be described simply …

The Buck Stops Where?

The data were clear. Three supervisors were doing a great job. Three others were struggling or failing outright. The CEO instinctively approached the survey results as a tool to pinpoint deficient managers. But our experience suggested that the problem lay less in any one individual’s failures than in the overall variation of leadership within the organization. For such a wide …

The Role of Leaders of Leaders

We once worked with a manufacturing company that was trying to move from a top-down leadership approach to a more participation-focused system. Brian, a manager of one of the larger plants, readily accepted the challenge building a new concept of leadership and was doing an excellent job of making unfamiliar and sometimes difficult choices. One day we commend him on …

Vision, Culture, a Vision *of* Culture

Vision and the conscious building of culture are central to the individual dimensions of reflective leadership. But both take on additional significance in the context of building and leading a reflective organization. Vision lies at the heart of the unity of purpose needed to sustain long-term collective excellence. A clear articulation of why an organization exists and what contribution it …

Reducing Disunity or Building Unity?

To the extent that leaders consider workplace unity at all, they tend to think in terms of fixing what’s broken. Discord is overlooked in countless forms and action is taken only when conditions get truly out of hand, when people are shouting in hallways or departments are refusing to work with one another. But just as peace at its fullest …