A quick morning reflection could make you a better leader-even if you're not the boss!

April 11, 2021

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A quick morning reflection could make you a better leader-even if you're not the boss!

Starting your day by thinking about what kind of leader you want to be can make you more effective at work, according to a new study.

What the researchers say: “It’s as simple as taking a few moments in the morning while you’re drinking your coffee to reflect on who you want to be as a leader,” said the lead author of the study published in the journal Personnel Psychology.

When study participants took that step, they were more likely to report helping co-workers and providing strategic vision than on days they didn’t do the morning reflection. They also felt more leaderlike on those days, perceiving more power and influence in the office. The effects also extended to aspiring leaders.

“Leadership is really challenging, so a lot of people are hesitant to tackle leadership roles or assignments,” he said. “Reflecting a few minutes in the morning really makes a difference.”

And unlike being given extra responsibility or leading a team project, a morning reflection is under the employee’s control.

“They’re not dependent on their organization to provide formal opportunities. They don’t have to wait until they have that title that says they’re a leader to take on leadership in their work,” the researchers found.

Want to try a morning leadership boost? Here are some prompts recommended by the researchers.

  • What are some of your proudest leadership moments?
  • What qualities do you have that make you a good leader, or will in the future?
  • Think about who you aspire to be as a leader, then imagine everything has gone as well as it possibly could in this leader role. What does that look like?
  • What effect do you want to have on your employees? Do you want to motivate them? Inspire them? Identify and develop their talents? What skills or traits do you have that can help with those goals?

Whether you’re the boss or on your way up the ladder, “this is a tool to be more effective at work.” The lead author said. “Just a few minutes can entirely change your focus for the rest of your day.”

So, what? I think that this probably works for two reasons, unconnected with the tips that the researchers suggest, which are fairly banal.

Firstly, the exercise is one inducing autonomy—the sense that you are in control (as they said), that you have decision-rights over your own thoughts and to some extent your actions.

Secondly, the thought process induces a sort of meditation state which relaxes you and sets up a buffer against the stresses of the day. Many studies have shown that even 10 seconds of meditation can serve a number of useful purposes, including boosting your metabolism and adding to your longevity.

Dr Bob Murray

Bob Murray, MBA, PhD (Clinical Psychology), is an internationally recognised expert in strategy, leadership, influencing, human motivation and behavioural change.

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