Yesterday literally three people whom I had coffee with said to me; “Sonia please make sure you take time off this Xmas.” I know I work hard however it is obvious I need to take time off I thought to myself. Yes, it is for all of us during this time. You might think it seems crazy to even be writing about this topic – after all, aren’t holidays about forgetting about work and relaxing? But the truth is that great leaders never truly stop reflecting, seeking feedback and improving and sharpening the saw on their leadership. In fact, when you’re away from your work environment you might even be able to step back enough to gain a new perspective on things and get yourself ready to improve after your time off.

Here are six tips on how to use your time wisely when reflecting on your leadership over Christmas.

1.   Don’t let it consume your whole holiday

This is the most important thing to remember! While effective leaders are always reflecting on their leadership, you do need to make sure you take time out for yourself to unwind and de-stress, and to spend time with your family as well over the holiday period.

2.   Be honest with yourself

If you aren’t completely honest about your successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses, you’ll never grow. Identifying these areas of improvement are what will help you become a better leader, as long as you follow through on them! It’s not fun to think about things we can’t do well, or what we can do better, but you need to have these tough conversations with yourself to grow as a person and a leader.

3.   Look at your leadership as a whole

It’s not just about reflecting on your results (KPIs etc.), your wins and your losses, but how you interacted with your team and those above you, what you did to improve your leadership over the past year, whether you sought feedback or not; everything that makes up your leadership self.

4.   Celebrate the wins

Make sure you take the time to acknowledge what you’ve done well, and really celebrate any wins you’ve had with your leadership – whether that’s leading your team to an incredible result, or receiving an award recognising your efforts. These are especially handy to reflect on when you’re feeling down on yourself; they boost your spirits and remind you that you CAN do this!

5.   Plan for changes and action in the new year

Once you’ve assessed your strengths and what you could improve upon, it’s time to plan out what you’re going to do in the upcoming year to make these changes happen. Examples include: planning to ask for feedback on a more regular basis, making a conscious effort to change the way you communicate, and signing up for workshops or seminars.

6.   Make a list of books, blogs, podcasts etc. that will help you improve

Great leaders never stop learning! Once you’ve reflected on your leadership, you can then start researching and asking friends, colleagues, even your mentor if you have one, for recommendations for books, podcasts, TED Talks, etc. that will help you improve. You must be hungry for knowledge, never complacent and thinking you know it all or your leadership will suffer. I love Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! (had to do a plug!). Listen to Just Rock IT! Podcast too as it will truly motivate you over Xmas…

Strike the right balance these Christmas holidays, by making the most of your time away from work to both spend quality time with your loved ones, and reflect on your leadership during the past year. While reflection isn’t always pleasant, especially when you’re looking back on things that didn’t go well, it’s vital to being a truly great and authentic leader.

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