May 26
Stacey Ashley Blog

Want to be a better leader? Use simple self-reflection.

It’s been a busy time; it’s been challenging; there is lots of change going on. We all know that. So enough already. It is time that we leaders accept that we are responsible for the way that we contribute, and the way that we represent leadership. Both so we can be our leadership best, and also so that we are role modelling leadership. The world needs leaders, not people in leadership roles.

FIRST LEAD YOURSELF

I’m going back to basics. The real foundations that set you up for successful leadership. You start with the first dimension of leadership. First Lead Yourself. The essential ticket to the bigger game of leading others.

To begin with you need to Face Up …  to yourself. Raise your awareness of self…this creates opportunity for you, and your leadership.

First Lead Yourself

You start with a reflection on your own practice of leadership. Reflect on yourself and use that as a basis for gathering information and insight about you and your leadership. This opens opportunity for you to move forward towards your own goals, towards the leader you want to become, or it reminds you about what you need to sustain about yourself and your leadership.

Here I will share a few different ideas about how to ‘do’ reflection. You might pick one that works for you to start with. These are simple, practical ways of introducing a more purposeful way of having a self-reflective practice that will support your leadership of self and your leadership performance.

 

SELF-REFLECTION

1. JOURNALING – Self

Journaling is often a solo practice, done in your own quiet time. You might choose a particular time of the day or week that allows you this focused time for yourself.This is about reflecting on the day or the week’s events and activities. How you contributed, what you were feeling. It’s about asking yourself some key questions, pondering, and just writing down whatever comes to mind so that you can then read it, you can go back and appreciate it. You can consider what does that mean for you.

This is about reflecting on the day or the week’s events and activities. How you contributed, what you were feeling. It’s about asking yourself some key questions, pondering, and just writing down whatever comes to mind so that you can then read it, you can go back and appreciate it. You can consider what does that mean for you.

Some of the questions that you might like to consider if you choose journaling as a reflective practice for yourself include:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What’s working?
  • What did I do well?
  • Which of my strengths am I using?
  • What did I progress? Or where did I make progress?
  • Where did I get stuck?
  • What are my current obstacles?
  • Where is my focus?
  • Where does my focus need to be?
  • What is most important for me right now?

2. WWW & EBI – Situation

This practice comprises two simple questions for you to reflect on. You might use it to review an activity or situation you were part of.The first question is “What Went Well?”

For example:

  • What went well in the meeting?
  • What went well about this project?
  • What went well in terms of me looking after myself?

And then the second thing you ask of yourself is to finish the following statement, “It would be Even Better If…”For example,

  • “It would be even better if I got more consistent sleep,”
  • “It would be even better if I had briefed the team members before the meeting so we could come to a decision.”
Right? So that’s a really simple one.
WWW-EBI

3. WINS AND LESSONS – Weekly

This is a great reflective practice that I use on a weekly basis, and it’s really, really simple.

There are two key questions.

The first question is focused on Wins. You could ask yourself:

  • What was my big win?
  • What was my most significant win?
  • What was my small win?

Because we need to stop and celebrate sometimes and appreciate what we’ve done. And the big win might be we made a little bit of progress. It might be we actually got through the week intact. It might be that we accomplished something. There are many ways of measuring a win.

The second question of this weekly reflection is “What’s the lesson?” Which might be:

  • What’s the big lesson?
  • What’s the small lesson?
  • What’s my takeaway from the week?

If you want to continue to learn and grow as a leader, focusing on lessons is important to create the opportunity for growth.

Wins Lessons

4. THE 4Ls FRAMEWORK – Over a period of time

This approach can be used for reflecting over a longer period. Perhaps 3 or 6 months.

LOVE

  • What did you love about the last 3 months?
  • What did you enjoy?
  • What brought you satisfaction?
  • What brought you achievement?

LOATHE

  • What did you loathe about the last 3 months?
  • What didn’t you like?
  • What was challenging for you?
  • What did you really not enjoy?
  • What drained you of energy?

LEARN

  • What did you learn during the past 3 months?
  • What are the lessons you can take away?
  • What is the key thing that you would like to be able to do more of?
  • What did you learn about yourself?

 LONG FOR

  • What do you long for?
  • What do you wish you’d made progress with?
  • What do you wish that you had focused on?
  • What’s your big aspiration?
  • What’s the goal that you’re heading towards?

So the purpose of the four L’s is to give you the opportunity to reflect over a longer period and to create insight into where to focus, what to do more of, what to do less of, and how to capitalise on your learning.

4 L's

5. WHEELS OF SUCCESS – Energy & Self Care

Let me share with you the simple process that I use to facilitate the self-reflection that enables me to choose to show up at my best. You might be familiar with the wheel’s process. Using a simple wheel of life to identify the factors that you know bring you energy, that fill your cup, and that you need to have operating at a reasonable level, not 100%, but at a reasonable level, in order for you to be able to lead at your best. Which will allow you to show up at your leadership best.

Here is the process.

Wheel 1

Firstly, draw a wheel with a few spokes to support your factors. I’ve used eight spokes in my wheel.  You might have 10 or 12 or however many factors there are that really get you into your zone and find you well-supported.

Name your factors. They can be whatever you need to bring you energy as a leader. For me, this includes things like food, sleep and exercise, family time and outside time, learning and reading. So just name your factors on your wheel.

Then, what you do is determine on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, where do I feel I am operating at the moment. So ask yourself, “Where am I operating?”

Then you mark out the current scale for each factor.

Next, you join it up and you have somewhat of a wonky wheel, like mine.

Wheels 2
Wheel 3

The next thing to think about is, on your wheel, in order for you to be operating at your best, where do you really need those factors to be? Again, they don’t have to be at 10, at 100%. It’s just, where do you need them to be, in order for you to be resourced and to give yourself the opportunity to operate at your best? To really show up.

Again, mark them out. Use a different colour to distinguish from your first wonky wheel. Mark your factors on the scale and then join up those points, and you will have a different version of your wonky wheel.

What you will notice is that between your two wonky wheels, you have some gaps. Some of the gaps are smaller and some of the gaps are larger. Where you have the larger gaps, these are your opportunities to resource yourself, so you can be a more effective leader at the moment.

Now you need to ask yourself, what can I do to close this gap and further resource and energise myself?

For me, my two big opportunity gaps were exercise and outside time.

Wheel 4

That works for me because I can choose to add some exercise outdoors to my routine fairly easily. This creates the opportunity for me to be more energised and more resourced and more able to create a sustainable way forward for me as the leader of my tribe.

It’s the same for you. You get to choose what will do for yourself. So, if you are feeling like you are a little bit flat, it’s been a long six months and that you could use a little bit more pep in your step, I encourage you to take 10 minutes to complete this simple reflection and self-coaching exercise yourself.

It is worth drawing your wheels. It will become clear where you can focus to get real return on your energy and self-leadership. This 10-minute activity will help you to show up as a leader every day.

 

‘Mastering others is strength; mastering oneself is true power.’

Lao Tsu

 

You can practice self-reflection. You can choose one or more of these ideas, and add them into a regular way of you doing you. It might be daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly, whatever works for you. You might use different variations for different elements. For me, I put it in my diary to remind myself … that means I don’t have to remember, it is simply scheduled there for me.

When you have a reflective practice you’re gathering information about yourself. How you are. How you’re contributing. What’s working and maybe what’s not working as well.

The next step is to identify the opportunity for you and your leadership.

  • What are the options for you?
  • How do you want to be in this next period of time?

I’ll leave you to think about that.

I would love to know which one of these five options feels like it could be helpful?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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