As we continue to discuss highly effective leadership, we will be more specifically defining the characteristics (qualities) and behaviors (actions) of common sense leaders.

While some traits of good leadership are fundamental—such as being a person of integrity and intuitively helping others to succeed—there exist more concrete qualities and actions that increase our effectiveness as leaders. These particular characteristics and behaviors make us the kind of people whom others respect and want to work with, and for whom employees do their very best work.

The quality of self-awareness requires self-reflection. Self-reflection is the act of setting aside time, ideally every day, to quietly and honestly look at yourself, first as a person and then as a leader. As with most good habits, commitment and practice help us to improve.

Daily self-reflection is easier said than done, especially in today’s demanding business world with the pressure to do more with less, and with the endless flow of information via emails and social media.

Because self-reflection requires dedicated time, setting aside 30 minutes probably isn’t realistic. Is 15 minutes possible for you? Even five minutes is a good start. Self-reflection works best when you use a journal and record your thoughts. It’s also ideal to find a quiet and peaceful place. Do the best you can with the resources you have.

One friend sets aside a few minutes every morning and just before she goes to sleep for her self-reflection; another self-reflects when he drives home after his work day. He does not turn on his radio so that he may drive in silence. Determine what works best for you, and try to schedule this time into your daily schedule.

Consider the following questions as you self-reflect:

  • Who am I as a leader?
  • Who am I as a team member?
  • Who am I as a business person?
  • Who am I as a corporate citizen?
  • What do I do to help others? Could I do more? Is helping others important to me?
  • What am I not doing? What am I missing?
  • What example do I offer? Do I offer inspiration?
  • How close am I to using my mind and capabilities to my fullest potential? Why am I not?
  • What are my values?
  • What is most important to me?
  • What are my strengths? Where are my areas for improvement?
  • How do others perceive me?

If we take the time to think about how we want to be perceived by others and then become aware of how we feel we are perceived following conversations, meetings, and presentations (all of our interactions, really), our leadership effectiveness will improve significantly.

If you make the time, self-reflection will make you a better leader.