Thursday, April 15, 2010

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat”

Warning, makers of shampoo products are urging us to fall into a leadership trap! 

Most of us don’t give much thought to these instructions; we simply “Lather, Rinse and Repeat.”  After all, that’s we’re supposed to do.  But when we apply this same approach to decision making, Action, Decision, Repeat, we have fallen into one of the most serious leadership traps. 

As leaders in an organization we are bombarded with communication, feedback, and requests.  It’s our job to make decisions and keep our business moving forward.  Our natural tendency is to collect some information, make a decision and move on to the next one.  We do this because the pace demands it.     

When we continue to operate in this way, we miss the single most powerful leadership tool; the power of reflection.  In general most of us learn from our mistakes.  If not, we are destined to repeat them and fail.  The power of reflection not only gives us a way to learn from our mistakes, but to accelerate our personal and company’s growth through our successes. 

Adapted from Hogan Assessment Systems

Nimble organizations pride themselves on continuous learning and innovation.  In fact, innovation is born from the power of reflection.  But this is only true if our behavior changes based on what we have discovered. 

Reflection is accomplished by asking one simple, properly timed question.  What did I learn from that last experience?”  Answering this will give us the space to reflect, adjust and accelerate our growth.  You may feel that you already do this. Perhaps, but I would like to offer one tip, write it down.  To really get the most out of reflection, take a moment and write down what you learned and what you will do differently the next time.  Once your idea becomes black and white, the odds of you internalizing it and adjusting your behavior increase significantly.

Avoid the shampoo trap!  Reflect on what you have done right and what you have done wrong; but more importantly what you will do differently next time. 

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” James Levine