I was talking with a group of CEOs recently and they all agreed that one of the biggest challenges that they face is finding time to think. Not the small, day-to-day, transactional stuff. But rather the strategic thinking, the creative thinking, the self-reflection.
It is a topic that comes up regularly with our coaching clients. The daily torrent of information can be overwhelming, or at least all-consuming. Finding time to sit back and contemplate –
to think about what went well, and what one would do differently if you had your time again; to think outside the square; to simply stop and give your mind a break and let any ideas flow naturally – can be difficult.
And, yet, when they are able to do this, clients tell me how beneficial it can be.
One of our clients started by setting time aside after each coaching session for some self-reflection. What had been his main insights? How had he ‘joined the dots’? What was he planning to do differently as a result?
He then started to set time aside each week to consider his coaching goals, so that he was reflecting on these four or five times between his monthly coaching sessions. This kept the goals front-of-mind and ensured that he stayed focused on them.
He then expanded his self-reflection to cover his whole team, setting aside time each week to review their key objectives and how they were progressing, and whether he needed to adjust or refine any of them.
How much time did this involve?
About 5-6 hours a month, which he scheduled in his diary and then
stuck to religiously.
And what has been the impact of this?
He is thinking through much more the issues that he is facing and how he can
improve as a leader.
He is leading more effectively and with greater ease, both of himself and of
With this broader, higher-level perspective, he is more open to
opportunities to influence key issues – and at a higher level.
He is taking a much more holistic approach to developing, managing and
leading his teams, and it is yielding results.
Simple, structured, successful self-reflection.
About the author: Heather Linaker is the Queensland State Director and an Executive Mentor & Coach with the Stephenson Mansell Group. With this dual role, she is leading and growing our business in Queensland, as well as supporting executives to maximise the positive impact they have for their organisations, working particularly with leaders who are stepping up into a more senior role.