Greek philosophers admonish us to know ourselves. The ultimate challenge in life. It requires courage to regularly review personal values, skills, passions, and course correct. A particularly difficult task with today’s social media distractions and rewards for staying busy. Little value is given to spending time thinking or reflecting on our lives and decisions.
Funny enough, COVID forced us to stop and reflect. And reflect we did. We thought about our lives. Our priorities. Our limited time on this little blue ball. And many have taken action. Some have quit jobs. Changed friends. Locations. Even opted for divorce. While some of this has been shocking and maybe a bit destructive, most has been clarifying and life-changing in a good way. People are making thoughtful choices. Adjusting their lives to fit their values. To fulfill their commitments. And to embrace deferred life goals.
4 ways leaders can reflect with their teams
So what can be taken from this COVID lesson and applied to work? And is there something to learn that can help us be better leaders? Better people? Better at life? Consider these 4 ways leaders can reflect with their teams:
- See your work on three levels; who you are, what you do, and why it matters.
- Distribute your and your team’s time appropriately. Consider 33% to each.
- Develop a structure for that distribution. For example, break down the work to show how it connects to your values, being of service, and living your mission.
- Involve your team. And encourage them to do the same personally.
How this works in practice
On a practical level, here’s how this works. Let’s assume you lead an operations team. You do some sort of back-office function. Something needed but not visible to the wider company. The work is intense, task-oriented, and incessant. There is little time to think much less reflect.
You and your team decide to build a daily schedule to include pre and post reviews of the work, the distribution of tasks, the output, and your team’s mission. These reviews may be as short as fifteen minutes each. The focus is to recognize the effort, align people to skills and passions, and measure the results.
Then once a week, take a longer meeting to discuss what’s working and what’s not. Again, adjust the work accordingly. Then once a quarter, take either a half or full day to review and reflect on the three levels; who are we, what do we do, and why does it matter.
Notice this is the structure you used personally during COVID. You just didn’t know it. But all day long, you stopped and thought about what you were doing. If you were like most of us, you were harsh on yourself. Judgmental even. Not the most healthy approach. But with a little tweaking, you can do this without being self-destructive or allowing that negative little voice in your head to take over.
This approach is taken by startups
Also, notice this is the structure and approach taken by successful startups. The pre and post-fifteen-minute meetings are called standups. The weekly reflections are called All Hands. And the big reflections are called quarterly business reviews (QBRs).
Reflection or, as my Western Civ college professor would say, pondering your navel, doesn’t have to wait for a crisis like COVID. It can be incorporated into your busy life as a normal thing. The benefits far outweigh the risks. And if the Greeks knew it way back then, we can know it now. Know thyself indeed.