I work with many leaders and managers and coaches, supporting them to deliver to their best, and get the very best out of their teams. Like many of my clients I often wonder where the days disappear to, life is so busy. Yet I also know that, to be at my best, I need reflection time for myself and feedback from others. I believe the same is true whether I’m a leader, manager or coach.
Reason one: to stay in synch with your colleagues
Reflection and feedback is partly about refreshing my own skills as a leader and coach, it’s also about making sure that I’m in synch with my colleagues and the people who work for us. Thanks to the wonders of technology we scheduled a global call last night and connected up with our colleagues in Canada and Australia and really felt the benefits of that conversation.
- Our colleague Tony, based in Brisbane Australia, has a great eye for detail and so when we were discussing our leadership coaching definition, he really brought out the subtleties of the issue.
- By contrast, the value I get from Cynthia, based in Toronto, Canada, is that she asks penetrating questions which highlight what’s missing, or what’s not clearly communicated.
What feedback like this reminds me is that we all share passion and commitment to the topics of leadership and coaching, and making them more accessible.
So reason number two for reflection and feedback: people giving the best feedback also share your commitment and values.
In preparation for a course we’re running in a couple of weeks time, I thought I’d check in with my fellow coaches to find out how they refresh their skills and access feedback. I used the LinkedIn Poll option, which only allows for 1 response.
- This immediately brought out reason number three: people use more than one way to reflect which creates innovation and expands our options
The fourth reason that came from peoples’ responses is the need for evidence of effectiveness. People need to see evidence before they change; which relies on pioneers and innovators trying out new ideas, risking the possibility of failing and reporting back what works to the later adopters.
Coaches are pioneers who work with innovators – so they get to see what works and doesn’t, often before anyone else. So, what were the review, reflection and feedback options that people reported using?
My favourite quote came from Carl Dierschow in Colorado, US – “Coaching (others) is the absolute way to keep your skills fresh! Every day is a new learning opportunity..” So refreshing our own coaching skills is vital, whether we’re professional coaches, leaders or managers.
- Professional coaches recognise the importance of coach supervision and mentoring
- Personal reflection and reading: books, newsletters and blogs are flexible ways to make connections & acquire skills
- Joining networks in your area of technical expertise, or joining professional membership organisations is a great way to meet others
Reason five is to explore and access the full range of learning styles, resources and technologies available to you today.
I’m very interested in both what people do to refresh, review and reflect on their professional development and also why they do it. The answer is simple: it’s essential – to avoid stagnation and to improve your effectiveness.
- To review the tools and techniques you already know
- To learn new tools, methodologies, and approaches
- To create connections between new learning and what you know already
- To exchange ideas and stay open minded to new ones
- To turn new ideas and unfamiliar behaviours into habits through learning, practice and reflection
The sixth reason is that we don’t know what we don’t know. When we get high quality feedback it can highlight vital gaps: in our knowledge, in technical details, or awareness of the impact of our behaviours.
High quality feedback is rare and hard to come by, which is why we’re putting it as a priority in our 1-day workshop in London. I spend too much time reassuring coaching clients after they’ve received poor feedback and for me it’s vital in our increasingly connected world.
As a leader, manager or coach, it takes commitment and time to reflect, refresh and review our skills. That sounds like a serious business, but renewal can also be enjoyable. I’m stretching myself by learning Italian at the moment and it gives me pleasure both to pick up new vocabulary and to try it out on our Italian clients. Yes, they laugh at my attempts to be understood, but we also share the pleasure of success when I do get it right. So the final reason has to be – to make it social and fun.