My last blog post looked at using the Holiday Season as a reminder of the importance of reviewing, assessing, celebrating, and refocusing – both at home and at work. Besides energizing us, it’s critical to our ongoing learning and development.

In offsite retreats and workshops, management teams agree on how critically important it is for the team to do this. We’ll often discuss some of these pressing needs for this vital leadership practice:

  • It’s so easy to drift off track and confuse busyness with effectiveness.
  • Constant change and relentless improvement can be exhausting.
  • Results come from what we finish not what we start.
  • We often allow the “tyranny of the urgent” to crowd out what’s really important to our long term success.
  • When we don’t step back and look at how we’re doing we can’t improve.
  • We need to continuously learn what’s working/not working and redirect our efforts.
  • Savoring success and small wins along the way energizes us and our organization.

Given just how critical periodic reviewing, assessing, celebrating, and refocusing is to team learning, growth, and development, why is it so rare? This is a very rich and useful discussion (reflecting on reflection) for a management team. Here are some of the common reasons (The Seven Sins) that emerge:

  1. Reflective learning on yesterday’s effectiveness and strategic thinking about tomorrow’s priorities feels less productive than solving today’s operational problems.
  2. Planning and new beginnings are more exciting then the hard work of implementation.
  3. We talk about accountability but we’re not disciplined about following through and following up.
  4. We feel relentless production pressures to “just do it” and feel we can’t afford the time to step back and figure out how to do it much better.
  5. Operational review meetings become information dumps and get way too deep into tactical issues with little focus on underlying root causes or systemic strategic issues.
  6. We usually dwell on what’s gone wrong and don’t understand what’s gone well, why, and what we can learn from our successes.
  7. We fear that celebrating success will foster complacency and satisfaction with the status quo.

Which of The Seven Sins is dumbing down your management team? Reflective leadership, celebrating and appreciating our strengths and successes, disciplined time management, and refocusing on high leverage activities are the hallmarks of high-performing management teams. How’s your team doing?

Further reading:

Go to the Goals and Priorities section  for a series of past blog posts on slowing down to speed up, reducing priority overload, the discipline of stop-doing lists, minding your own busyness, The Acceleration Trap, and related topics.