Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Great Leaders & The Power of Self-Reflection

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of having diner with Harry Kraemer, a former CEO for Baxter international, a 40,000-employee company and currently professor of management at the Kellogg business school. Harry Kraemer shared a little secret: his annual 3-day "retreat" that helps him free his mind and take time off to think about his career or life in general.

Interestingly enough, a few weeks earlier, I had come across a study showing that great leaders share a common pattern that help them be more successful; they set a daily-ritual that helps them step back from the daily frenzy and reflect on how they can be more effective.

Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University, and one of the most quoted leadership experts, wrote in his book “Leading minds: an anatomy of leadership” that one of the factors crucial to the practice of effective leadership is the control of a certain rhythm of life: “it is important that the leader find the time and the means for reflecting, for assuming distance from the battle or the mission. I term this tendency “going to the mountaintop”, with the understanding that such a retreat can occur literally or metaphorically, as in the case of De Gaulle and his daily walks.”

Relaxing, taking vacations and making time for fun actually makes you more successful. Mireille Guiliano, the former CEO of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, said it well: “We have to take ‘beach time,’ a space for ourselves every day, because we live in a world of burnout. Even if you take 20 or 30 minutes for yourself, you’ll be a better worker, a better colleague, a better person. It benefits the people around you as much as it benefits you.”


Copyright Nicolas Mottet.

1 comment:

Mireille'sfan said...
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