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Leadership and Team Reflection

With regard to reflection and communication barriers the leader often has much influence. Frequently, he dictates on his own, which topics arrive on the agenda of meetings, what can be discussed in one-to-one meetings, whether and how team exercises and workshops take place, whether these are moderated, whether external consultancy is called upon or not etc..

Thus, basically, it is already specified why, particularly in the guiding process team reflection, the most profound mistakes can be made by leaders: If something in the team runs poorly or in the wrong direction, this is not so bad if it can be worked on through reflection on the mistake (double-loop learning). First of all, the reflection barrier prevents the regulation of team work. Seen in this way, perhaps the most important thing which a leader should ask themselves and others, principally and continuously, is: “What things do I consciously and unconsciously prevent my team from discussing, officially and explicitly?” A boss, who prevents topics from being put on the agenda, which others in the team consider important, should have good reasons (sometimes these do exist!). Openness to unpopular topics fundamentally involves an engagement with one’s own inadequacy and imperfection but also with shame and guilt feelings such as fear of not-knowing or not being able to do something. This self-reflection must be a part of every leadership development.

Thinking about it from the other side: It can be one of the most distinguished tasks of managers to engage in reflection about things which a team should reflect upon. Many leaders neglect this question out of preference for reporting, micro-management and operative working. To gain an inkling about one’s own blind spot is not easy. Those, who take satisfaction from innovation, exceptions and the unusual but also take a certain pleasure from failure and amazement, are well-equipped for this aspect of leadership.