I was listening to James Taylor the other day singing “Up on the Roof” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgjMdjKw1Og.
As I listened I was touched by some of the lyrics
I'll get far away from the hustling crowd and all the rat-race noise down in the street.On the roof, that's the only place I know…
I thought about how as leaders sometimes you need to go “Up on a Roof” to get away from the ‘rat race’ and reflect. You need time to consider what is actually going on, at both a professional and personal level. However for many of you, taking time out to go ‘Up on a Roof’ can seem like a very self indulgent exercise. So let me offer you some of the many benefits of taking time out to reflect:
- Seminal work of Kolb (1984), Schön (1983) and Mezirow (1990) argue that it is only through experience, observation, reflection, conceptualisation, experimentation and integration that learning can occur.
- Leaders who take opportunities to critically reflect on what transpires in the work environment, have far more occasions for transformational learning to take place (Detrick 2002; Mintzberg 2004).
- Reflection-in-action was popularised by Schön (1983), who suggests that significant learning occurs through problem-solving in the middle of real daily work, where problems may be poorly structured, outcomes vague and the context continuously changing. This is the reality of leadership and management. Problems that can be easily solved are delegated and the remaining complex problems are left for the manager to solve. Reflection provides a space to help you solve complex problems.
- Kolb (1984), like many other theorists, suggested that while adults are exposed to a whole host of life experiences, many do not all learn from their experiences. The argument is that experience alone does not teach. Learning occurs when there is reflective thought and internal processing which transforms the learner’s earlier understanding in some way.
- Mezirow’s (1991) theory of transformative learning is based on the tri-level concept of critical reflection on experience, which means that the person reflects on the content of their experience, examines the premise of their thinking and then confronts and challenges their own thinking and assumptions. The critical reflection cycle facilitates transformative learning because it involves a shift in a leader/manager’s mind-set.