Develop Your Agile Leadership Skills with Reflective Action

March 27, 2012

In today’s turbulent business climate, leaders are facing complex problems. A leader’s ability to successfully navigate continually changing, uncertain waters requires continual reflection and improvement. A great resource for developing your leadership capability can be found in the book, Leadership Agility by William B. Joiner and Stephen A. Josephs.

In their book, Joiner and Josephs state that, “At its core, leadership agility is a process of stepping back from your current focus in a way that allows you to make wiser decisions and then fully engage in what needs to be done next. We call this core process reflective action. Reflective action is both the essence of leadership agility and the best way to develop it.”

And just how is reflective action both an essence of leadership agility and the best way to develop it? The paradox is easily resolved once you understand what it is.

First, pick one issue, but before you jump to a solution, make sure that you fully understand the issue. The next step – and one that is commonly overlooked according to Joiner and Josephs – is to clarify your desired outcome. Then clarify what you need to do to achieve your desired outcome. And finally, after you have taken action, reflect and learn from what happened.

The process sounds very agile to me! And as you may have surmised, reflective action can be something that is rapid and intuitive, like when you are in the midst of a conversation, or it can be more deliberate and systematic, such as taking time to thought in developing a new business strategy.

It does take a willingness to look honestly at yourself, along with a little curiosity, courage, and self-confidence to experiment with new behaviors. The good news is that you can make reflection action a daily practice and a means of continually improving as a leader.