There Seems To Be A Shortage Of Introspection Within Today’s Leaders

thinking manIntrospection
A reflective looking inward; the process of examining your own thoughts and feelings.

Time and again, I have turned to self-analysis — and a bit of 20-20 hindsight — to evaluate my performance and redesign my strategy.
Creative Leadership is built on the idea that everyone at every level in the organization is a leader; that leaders must know introspection quotethemselves, alert to their failings and graces, to better serve the organization; and that only by mastering complexity – both human and organizational – will leaders be able to achieve alignment. I had much to master in becoming dean.
Doug Guthrie, Dean of the School of Business at The George Washington University, in Creative Leadership: Introspection



I don’t know about you, but there are times when I hear about a decision within a company, and then the company’s response, and I wonder… does anyone in that company have a heart? or a brain?

I’ve read a lot of books on leadership. (I present synopses of business books in Dallas, one new presentation every month, for well over 17 years). I think I grasp the challenge that leaders face to produce the best, right, profitable results.

But, sometimes the focus on results can cause some sort of willful blindness toward other important factors. Like treating workers like human beings. Like being honest with consumers. Like staying within both the letter and the spirit of the law.

Though I realize the power in the famous phrase “a bias for action,” maybe a “bias for action” should be coupled with a “practice of introspection.”

knowing-yourself-is-the-beginning-of-all-wisdom-300x300If you look at the ancient formula from rhetoric (which clearly has implications for leadership), tracing back to Aristotle, the big “three” are logos (logic), ethos (character and credibility), and pathos (emotion). And, though all three are all important, ethos may deserve the premiere position.

Some of the most persuasive speakers are not persuasive because of their speaking dynamism, but their own credibility. They know what they are talking about, people know this about them, and thus they are viewed as trustworthy because they are in fact trustworthy.

And, in an earlier blog post (Does Your Audience Find You Trustworthy? — 4 Components Of Ethos), I mention the importance of goodwill as one of the components of ethos:

  • goodwill – have the best interests of your audience at heart.  Always mean them well, never mean them harm.

I think it would be pretty difficult to excel at “goodwill” without a healthy dose of introspection, within the top leader, and the members of the top leadership team.

Here’s what I think. We’ve got a shortage of introspection at the moment.


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