It is funny that most people only reflect on their professional journey when they leave a company. At that point, they reminisce about the jobs they've had, the results they've led, and the people with whom they worked and led. Through thoughtful messages received after word gets out about their departure, they realize, or maybe acknowledge, the impact they've had on the organization and people — the "fingerprints" they are leaving behind.
Self-reflection is incredibly valuable to leaders; it provides an opportunity for critical assessment of what worked, what didn't work and what to try next time. Without taking time to step back and analyze what has transpired, leaders will inevitably miss the lessons to be learned and run the risk of repeating missteps as similar situations or opportunities arise.
Rather, by critically analyzing (reflecting) on situations, actions, inactions and outcomes, leaders can form concise lessons to instill in their "book of leadership experience." By crisply articulating whatever they wish they had done in hindsight, they are more likely to recall and apply it should similar situations arise (as often they will). While every business situation is unique in its own right, they typically share some common elements where applied experience matters.
Take time to reflect — don't wait for a major professional transition — carve out time on your calendar once a year, once a quarter, at the end of a project or at some designated frequency to figure out what you learned and instill it in your book of knowledge. Deliberately building your "book of leadership experience" will help accelerate your career trajectory.
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Lisa Andrade is founder and CEO of M33, an executive coaching and leadership development company proven in both the “executive” and “coaching” in executive coaching. M33 leverages the art of leadership and advanced leadership science to create an executive blueprint tailored to you and your organization. For an initial consultation with Lisa, contact M33 at ClientServices@M33LLC.com.