Leadership in Action: An Introspective Reflection

Leadership in Action: An Introspective Reflection

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-8822-5.ch003
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This chapter highlights reflective practice as the core element of the ongoing art of introspective leadership. Firstly, while there is no one without the other, what does exist here is a dependent and independent variable. The independent variable, reflective practice, undeniably begins with self. Any person committed to a life of professional development must realize that one's personal development comes first. The introspection and assiduous work required is prodigious, to say the least. A practitioner understands that this work is cyclical in nature. As underlined in this chapter, it is essential to recognize the role of introspection in leadership. This work is a recurrent process; all actions, reactions, and interactions are interconnected, and it is imperative that leaders spend sufficient time analyzing, personalizing, and reinforcing these constructs.
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Leadership is the ability to inspire, motivate and guide a group of people toward a common goal or purpose (Heiss, 2023). To be an effective leader, one must possess certain qualities such as vision, empathy, communication, adaptability, and resilience (Tang, 2019). Good leaders must also have self-awareness and the ability to reflect on their own actions and decisions (Gill, 2002). Moreover, self-reflection is a process by which one examines one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to gain insight into oneself and improve personal and professional growth (Amanchukwu et al., 2015). By way of this process, influential leaders – and people – are able to understand their strengths and weaknesses, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary changes going (and growing) forward (Rahmani et al., 2018; Sohmen, 2013).

Combining leadership and reflection is essential for personal and organizational success (Hamilton, 2021; Nesbit, 2012). Introspective leaders possess the ability to look inward and reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are self-aware and understand the impact of their actions on others (Moldenhauer, 2019), and they use this self-awareness to guide their decisions and interactions with others (Pounder, 2001). As such, here are six defining traits and practices of a reflective leader:

  • 1.

    Self-awareness: Introspective leaders are aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs. They understand how their biases and perspectives shape their thoughts, decisions, and interactions (Showry & Manasa, 2014; Watts, 2012).

  • 2.

    Emotional intelligence: Introspective leaders are emotionally intelligent and can recognize and regulate their own emotions as well as the emotions of others. They use this understanding to build positive relationships with their team (Anand & UdayaSuriyan, 2010; Panait, 2017; Vitello-Cicciu, 2003).

  • 3.

    Reflection: Introspective leaders regularly reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They use this reflection to identify areas in need of improvement and to make better decisions in the future (Daudelin, 1996; Mitchell, 2019).

  • 4.

    Humility: Introspective leaders are humble, willing to admit their mistakes, and take responsibility for their actions. They use their mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning (Maldonado et al., 2022; Mohan, 2022).

  • 5.

    Active listening: Introspective leaders are good listeners and are open to feedback from others. They use this feedback to improve themselves and their leadership style (Gustafson et al., 2022; Yue et al., 2021).

  • 6.

    Empathy: Introspective leaders have compassion for others and can see situations from their perspective. They use this understanding to build trust and respect with their team (Frei & Morriss, 2020; Hagman, 2021).

Underscored here, an introspective leader is self-aware, emotionally intelligent, reflective, humble, a good listener, and empathetic. These traits and practices allow influential leaders to build strong relationships with their teams and make better decisions for the betterment of their respective organizations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reflective Leadership: Is a practice that involves self-reflection, contemplation, and learning in the context of leadership development. It emphasizes thinking about oneself as a leader, gaining self-awareness, and aligning one’s values, goals, and ambitions. Reflective leadership is recognized as a critical part of learning from experience and professional development.

Transformational Leadership: This leadership style focuses on inspiring and motivating individuals to achieve positive changes and accomplish common goals. It involves leaders who are energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate about their work, and they can convey a clear vision to their team members. Transformational leaders aim to bring about meaningful transformations in their organizations and create a positive impact on their constituencies and society as a whole.

Authentic Leadership: Is a management style that emphasizes leaders’ alignment with their personal core values and beliefs. It involves leading in a genuine, ethical, and transparent way. Authentic leaders are true to themselves and act in a manner that reflects their internal values and beliefs. They are characterized by qualities such as humility, transparency, vulnerability, purposefulness, self-awareness, and a focus on building relationships.

Leadership-in-Action: Refers to the practical application of leadership principles and behaviors in real-world situations. It involves taking specific actions and demonstrating leadership qualities to effectively guide and influence others toward achieving common goals. Leadership-in-action encompasses various aspects and strategies leaders can employ to drive organizational success, inspire their teams, and address societal challenges.

Introspective Leadership: Refers to a leadership approach that involves looking inward and examining one’s own thoughts, emotions, judgments, and perceptions to enhance self-awareness and personal growth as a leader. By engaging in introspection, leaders gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their values, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations, which can then inform their decision-making, interactions with others, and overall leadership style.

Effective Leadership: Is the ability to guide, inspire, and manage a group of people in a way that achieves desired goals and outcomes. Various leadership styles and characteristics contribute to and underscore effective leadership.

Leadership: Is a crucial aspect of management and the success of an organization. It involves guiding and influencing a group to work together to achieve common goals. Effective leadership skills are essential for individuals in influential roles to direct and complete tasks, support initiatives, create a sense of unity within a team, and empower others.

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