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The Art of Mindful and Reflective Leadership

MINDFULNESS – Definition by Oxford Languages

Mindfulness is the practice of uninhibitedly focusing on your conscious and subconscious emotions, where you are intently aware of what you are feeling at that moment, in your body. You allow yourself to freely and intensely explore your senses – without any judgement. It is the free flow of your thoughts and emotions, which can be done in a meditative state, using breathing techniques, prompts and imagery to help you relax and reflect. This is a great practice to centre yourself, pushing away distractions and anxious thoughts, and to clear your head before you begin your reflective exercises.

A good reflective writing practice to accompany mindfulness is free writing. This is a reflective literary technique that allows you to explore your conscious and subconscious state, by picking a prompt or a topic – and just writing the first thoughts that come to mind for 5-10 minutes at a stretch. No stopping, no correcting, no crossing out. Just free flow of your thoughts on paper. Below are some prompts to help kick off the process, but first…

“What role does mindfulness and reflection play in leadership?”

Many leaders highlight the importance of mindfulness, and how quickly the practice of meditative mindfulness and intentional reflection can have a direct impact on their leadership style.1 It influences the way in which we act and react in our lives, including in our professional space. Leaders discuss that mindfulness leads to intentional leadership, clarity in thought and decision-making, and development of competencies like communication, teamwork and more!2 Mindful leadership is about intentional practices and being aware of the impact your are having in the world around you.

Source: CCL

An important aspect of mindful leadership is daily reflection, which is critical for self-awareness and development. In fact, during our Change Management module at Warwick Business School’s full-time MBA program, our professor, Dr. Maja Korica, talked about how in her experience of shadowing leaders and learning about different leadership styles, she found that the best leaders were those who regularly practised mindfulness and reflection.

So, why is self-reflection important for good leadership? Not only, does daily self-reflection help leaders stay motivated in what is a challenging position to be in3, but it re-establishes each person’s own self-purpose and values. There are many ways to go about this kind of reflection, and a portfolio of prompts that can facilitate this process depending on what you to focus on.

Leadership Reflection Prompts

  • What makes me a good leader? Start with, “I am a good leader because…”
  • What excellent leadership attributes did I demonstrate today? Why do I consider these to be ‘excellent’ attributes?
  • What are my leadership weaknesses?
  • What worked and what didn’t? What could I have improved on today?
  • What do I want to change about my leadership style? Why?
  • “A leader should….”

Getting In Touch with Your Purpose & Values

  • What is important to me?
  • What fulfils me?
  • What upsets me?
  • What are the things I cannot live without?
  • If I had to change one thing about the world, what would it be? What is my role in this change?
  • “Success is…”
  • What is my purpose?
  • What are the things that define who I am?

Reflecting on Teamwork and Team-building

  • What did I notice about my team today?
  • What does teamwork look like in my team?
  • What does leadership look like in my team?
  • What does communication look like in my team?
  • What is working well in my team?
  • What isn’t working well in my team?
  • What needs to change going forwards? What will make the biggest positive difference?
  • What does my dream-team look like? How do people behave in my dream-team? How do we resolve differences and conflict?

Personal Behaviours and Motivations

  • How do I react when I am at my best?
  • How do I react when I am at my worst?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • What do I need to work on? Why?
  • How do I impact the people around me?
  • “I am motivated by…”

Reflecting on Conflict Management

  • How am I feeling about the conflict? Why do I feel this way?
  • What do I want to achieve for myself from this situation?
  • What do I want for the other party/person involved?
  • What do I want for the relationship?
  • What do I want to see as an outcome? Who does this benefit?
  • What is a fair outcome from this situation?

Ethical Leadership

  • What is the purpose of businesses? Why do I believe what I do?
  • What impact do businesses have on the world?
  • What defines me as an individual? Who am I?
  • Where am I headed? Why am I going there?
  • What do I like about the way I live my life?
  • What needs to change? What can I do to get there?

General Daily Reflective Writing Prompts

  • What did I notice about myself today?
  • What did I learn?
  • What did I like about myself today?
  • What do I want to do differently tomorrow?
  • What worked and what didn’t?

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