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Putting Reflection into Gear

Putting Reflection into Gear

Reflection is essential for all levels of management, as well as your employees. If it's done correctly, you can harness great potential.

"Quiet reflective time" was the phrase the speaker used to describe what he needed to do his work most effectively. So valuable was this time that he blocked out days at a time on his schedule months in advance. The speaker was none other than Jim Collins, author of [ital]Good to Great[end]. Collins explains that he might have meetings during these reflective days, but he purposely kept his schedule loose so he would have time to think, research and write. John Maxwell writes about making time for thinking and reflecting in his book, [ital]Thinking for a Change[end], in which he advises creating physical space, a chair, a room, a garden, someplace where you can go and gain perspective on the topic. Such advice is not reserved strictly for management gurus. The late Skip LeFauve, president of Saturn Corporation and high-ranking executive at General Motors, advised busy people to schedule time for reflection on their calendars, much like Collins does.

Making time for reflection

Reflection is a topic that I speak and teach in the course of my consulting, but it is something that I probably do not do enough of in my own daily life. Recently I had the opportunity to reflect on reflection at a leadership conference sponsored by the Wharton School. This conference, an annual event created by Michael Useem a decade ago, brings together men and women from diverse fields to speak and listen to topics related to leadership. What Mike and co-director Evan Wittenberg have created is a confluence of leadership thought that merges the life and work experiences of leaders in the corporate, government, military and other social sector worlds. Participants become engulfed in a potpourri of stories and lessons that provide perspective on our world as well as insights into how to effect positive change. It also reminded me that reflection need not be a passive process; it is active and engaging. Here are some insights that resonated with me.

Channel your enthusiasm. Helen Greiner has a passion for all things robotic. So much so that she built a business on this passion. The first decade of her business was a hard slog, financed as she says by credit card borrowing, but she and her team's persistence has paid off. iRobot, the company she co-founded and now serves as chairwoman, is earning healthy revenues by making robots for the US military and the consumer market. A point of particular pride is the fact that iRobot devices are used in Afghanistan to detect and detonate improvised explosive devices, a job that previously would have been done by soldiers. Greiner's spirited style, evident in her presentation, makes her passion for what she does come alive.

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