Leadership development: the core skill

October 31, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development programs help leaders master many skills. Experts differ on which ones are most important.

Ron Ashkenas and Brook Manville think there are six fundamental skills. I read their article in the Harvard Business Review to find out what those were. I came across a comment on learning buried deep in the article I think is powerfully important. Here it is.

“by reflecting on your successes and failures at every step, and getting feedback from colleagues and mentors, you’ll keep making positive adjustments and find more opportunities to learn. Research by Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats published in HBR shows how important this reflection can be to your improvement: they found that workers were able to improve their own performance by 20% after spending 15 minutes at the end of each day writing reflections on what they did well, what they did wrong, and their lessons learned. Leaders often have a bias for action that keeps them from stepping back in this way — but it is the reflection on your practice that will help you improve.”

Leadership Development: Reflection Is the Core Skill

If you want to become a better leader, you must learn to reflect on your experience. Reflection is the way you make sense of your experience so you can turn that experience into improved performance.

There’s no one right way to reflect on experience. Effective leaders use a variety of tools and techniques. But there are common practices.

Reflect at the end of the day when you can look back on your performance and judge how things went. Jot down reminders during the day to aid your memory. Use a journal to capture your memories and thoughts.

Reflection involves three stages. Capture your memories of your performance while they’re fresh. Analyze your performance to identify what you did well and what you could do better. Make a conscious decision about how you will do things differently next time.

Leadership Development and The Reflection Habit

Reflection pays its biggest benefits when it becomes a habit. Your leadership development program should teach leaders the reflection basics and help them develop reflection habit.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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