I recently attended a three-day leadership training session organised by my employer's parent company.
It was an interesting session (the mandatory mutual massage particularly so), but I was especially surprised by an exercise in which we had to score ourselves on five practices of exemplary leadership:
- Model the way
- Inspire a shared vision
- Challenge the process
- Enable others to act
- Encourage the heart
I've performed such self-assessments before - what struck me was how little my answers have really changed. I inspired a crappy shared vision two years ago; today that shared vision remains poorly shared. What's going on?
For me, this highlighted something I knew deep down - I've spent too much time doing work, and not enough time reflecting on how I work - particulary with respect to management.
Knowing how easy it is to be dragged back under the waves of daily routine, the course facilitators had us throw ourselves a lifeline - a letter to ourselves, to be delivered in three months time. Overcoming my first impulse just to draw a cock, I scrawled out a commitment to managing more mindfully; to reflect more regularly and keep looking for ways to improve.
To support this regular reflection, I set up a cronjob to email me every Tuesday morning with my current exemplary leadership scores. If nothing else, once a week a robot will poke me to think about what I might do better:
I added another practice: Mindful management. To my mind this trumps the others: without commitment to mindful reflection, this exercise is really just a pat on the back/shrug of the shoulders to your innate character. That way leads to the same self-assessment score two further years down the line. Instead I want to take steps to improve: this blog is one step, and the reminder-bot is another.