Reflection and Action: The Key to Leadership Mastery


I generally believe that many of us are motivated to change when we are in pain about something. Perhaps we’ve got a bad habit that is causing a sore spot in us or in others, and we’ve come to realize that we just can’t move forward without working to fix it. Or there are a lot of big changes going on around us that we have not control over that force us to make some changes. A new promotion might catalyze a change we wish to make. Either case can be painful but also catalytic.

Any catalytic event may spur you on to change your behavior, and you’ve likely figured out exactly what you need to change. But how do you move ahead with the behavior changes you make AND become masterful at them? So often we know what we need to do, we just don’t do it.

It’s not easy (did you expect me to tell you that it is?). Especially in your fast-paced environment where you are expected to just do it now. Personal change doesn’t happen that way. Changing yourself (i.e., your behaviors) requires thought first and then action (repeatedly).

I know, I know. You are driven and action oriented, so you just want to do it. But slow down. There are some questions you need to ask yourself first, not the least of which are:

  • Is the new behavior (action) I want to take on in line with my values?
  • Is this behavior in keeping with who I am at the core?
  • What good for others will my new behavior produce? What harm to others might it cause?

After reflecting on these questions, take the actions or take on the behaviors you had planned to take. Consider this a trial run of your new behavior. Be present to your actions and observe closely the responses they cause. Ask for feedback about what others are observing. And then reflect again:

  • What did I notice in myself? What emotional responses did I have to my new behavior?
  • What did I notice in others? What were their outward reactions? What did they express?
  • Was this new behavior effective? Did it work for me and for others?
  • Did this new behavior help or hinder my relationships with others?
  • What could I have done differently? What tweaking do I need to do to this behavior?

Now you can fine-tune your behavior based on what you’ve learned by reflection on your behaviors. You can repeat the cycle of reflection and action until you feel comfortable that you’ve achieved mastery.

Your new behaviors/actions won’t be right for every situation. They won’t be right for every person you interact with. Choose how you’ll act wisely through reflection and action, and you have the potential to become the next version of yourself and a masterful leader.



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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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