The art of self-reflection is an essential practice for leaders in any industry. Consciously considering and analyzing one’s actions and beliefs is a necessary part of the learning process. When reflecting, the brain has the opportunity to sort through the chaos of the business world and create meaning out of the madness.
Leaders can then take the lessons learned in reflection and use them to inform their future actions and mindsets. In a study of call center employees, researchers found that employees that spent 15 minutes in self-reflection improved their performance by 23 percent after ten days. Similarly, a study taken of UK commuters discovered that commuters that spent their time planning and thinking about the upcoming day were more productive, happy, and experienced less burnout.
Why Leaders Must Self-Reflect
The truth is that leadership can be draining and exhaustive work. Along with the prestige and financial flexibility of a leadership role comes a litany of stressful responsibilities, a higher level of performance, and added emotional distress from employees. When faced with all the challenges of leadership, it’s no wonder leaders report that they are unengaged and exhausted at work.
While it may seem challenging, starting a regular habit of self-reflection is simple. Leaders can begin by using a few minutes each morning to meditate on and write down three qualities that they value in themselves, as well as what makes them a great leader. Often this includes focusing on skills they have or the achievements they have made.
As the Harvard Business Review discovered in their study, leaders that spend a few minutes in self-reflection before work can tap into their leadership identities and face their responsibilities with new zeal. These studies show that succeeding at work is as much about “protecting one’s energy” as it is about fulfilling leadership roles.
Leaders that are facing exhaustion or burn out should put a “pause” on their daily grind and spend a few moments in quiet reflection. What may seem like a trite exercise to some is really one of the best secrets to improving productivity and emotional wellness at work. Those in leadership roles are chosen for their strength and must continue to strengthen themselves through practices that keep them engaged and ready to handle the challenges of leadership.