The most powerful leadership strategies are also the most simple. Here is one of those simple things: Take notes! If you have time to make a grocery list, you have time to jot down a few things you noticed today.
The most powerful leadership strategies are also the most simple. Here is one of those simple things: Take notes! John Aleckson, CEO of Web Courseworks, writes about taking notes throughout the year and compiling a “Victory Log” to share with the team at the end of the year. Besides victories, your notes will include things that didn’t work, reactions you didn’t expect, things you want to try in the future, and equally as important, how you felt about these things. Whether in a tiny spiral notebook or bound book or electronic file, your notes are a goldmine of information, especially if you look back on them over time.
If you want to dig deeper, your notes can be your vehicle for double loop learning as described by Argyris. If you are double loop learning, some of the questions you will ask yourself are, “What are the assumptions that underlie my actions? What’s the theory we have in our heads that is directing our actions? How are our theories holding up?” In single loop learning, according to Argyris, we simply ask ourselves, “What happened?” without looking much deeper.
It is very likely that you will see patterns in your notes—people who consistently behave in a certain way, targets that regularly get missed, questions that come up again and again, people who deliver wow results every time. Our lives are so full, that if we don’t attempt to capture these things, they slip away. So your notes can be both a personal learning tool and a way to keep track of victories so you can celebrate them. But of course, you don’t have to wait till the end of the year to celebrate your team’s achievements. People need all the encouragement they can get.
Be protective of your notes too, so you can be perfectly honest. You can figure out what this means.
One of the leadership practices we cultivate at our annual Women’s Executive Retreat is journaling. If you have time to make a grocery list, you have time to jot down a few things you noticed today.
Do you take daily or weekly notes or keep a journal? What does it do for you? What impact has it had on you as an individual or a leader? Please share your experiences.
Author and consultant Kathleen A. Paris, Ph.D., speaks on healthy workplaces, provides consulting for strategic planning, process improvement and redesign, and professional development for leaders. Read more »