According to Alan, the best leaders are self-aware, authentic and comfortable within their own skin. To achieve these attributes they have taken time to reflect upon themselves. They then use this skill to reflect upon the organisation, asking themselves questions such as “How am I doing?”, “How is the group doing?”, “What are we not paying attention to that we should be paying attention to?”. Having formed their own opinions they are then in a position to approach those around them to find out what they think and feel. The leader does not have to figure it all out on their own. It is only with these two perspectives that they end up with the best understanding of what is really happening in their organisation.
It is only at this stage they are ready to act. One of the biggest mistakes leaders make when starting a new role is feeling they must act immediately. If this is done without taking time to reflect they risk making knee jerk decisions rather than the right decisions.
This eagerness to act comes from the “disease of busyness”. As long as you are doing something it is easy to ignore the fact you are not actually making progress. This constant busyness leaves no time left for reflection and this leads into a vicious circle. With no time for reflection you are left with no leader making well thought through decisions. If there is no leader, corporate pollution such as office politics and chattering fills the void which can become very destructive.
Making time for reflection is hard especially with all of today’s instant communication. Alan recommends blocking out time in your own diary to essentially “have a meeting with yourself”.
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