Use Solitude to Make Yourself a Better Leader

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One of the paradoxes of leadership is that the time you
spend alone can make you a better leader. It’s there, out of public leadership’s
high velocity environment, that you can become a better leader by deepening your
understanding of the world and yourself.

Critique your behavior and performance. Group critique should be part of your
campaign to gather feedback, but so should quiet review where you can integrate
the things you heard.

Reflect. Frederick the Great asked: “What good is experience if you do not
reflect?” The answer is: “Not much.” Reflect on specific things, but let your
mind wander, too.

Think and develop your thinking skills. You can develop your ability to
evaluate evidence and come to a conclusion. When you’re able to reason
effectively you’re also more confident in your decisions and you’re better at
explaining them.

Read books and articles that make you think. Read books in your field, but
read fiction, too. Read articles with opposing views. Wrestle with the angel of
wisdom. You spend your day scanning short messages and executive summaries. Read
things you get lost in.

Study. Some of your time alone should be devoted to a learning project. For
business it might be “understand financial statements” or reading a specific
list of business books. But some development projects can be “learn more about
the music of Beethoven” or “learn to make my own sushi.”

Plan and prepare for the important things. Think about that big meeting, that
critical project, or a challenge with one of your team members.

Beware! You have to make time for this. Otherwise the demands of the day will
drive out your deep learning time. Start with an hour a week. Make it an
appointment with yourself.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Great leaders make time for depth, development, and reflection. If you aspire
to be a great leader, you should, too.


Here are some helpful resources for you to explore.

a Great Leader is Up to You

Your Personal Reading Program

Auto-Didact Course Catalog

The Khan

MIT Open

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