The responsibility of helping people pursue a common goal creates constant opportunities for uncertainty and self-reflection.
Every leader has reflective questions that stir their minds. Parents know this is true from their experience as leaders in their family; there is never a time where you stop discerning how to do what is best for your kids. The same is true for business leaders; you never stop seeking answers to ensure you make the best decisions to help you, your team, your business partners, or your community achieve success. The nature of responsibility for helping people understand the importance of a common goal and building engagement in the collective pursuit of the goal creates constant opportunities for uncertainty and self-reflection.
For example, a question that stirs in my mind on a regular basis is “What am I wrong about?” Even the most arrogant among us readily admit they are not right all the time, so if we all know we have things we are wrong about, would it not make sense for all of us to ask ourselves that question often? While I used to try to block it from getting much mindshare, I have learned to value its presence for two reasons. First, asking myself the question reminds me of the importance and value of humility. It acknowledges and accepts imperfection as a byproduct of leadership. Rather than wondering ‘if I am wrong about something,’ the question assumes it is a given fact in the wide range of things for which I am involved with personally, spiritually, and professionally, I am going to make some mistakes. If I am humble enough to look for them, I am more likely to learn and improve. Second, seeking answers to the question makes me a better listener. When I am more conscious of looking for my own blind spots and realizing I carry my own bias into decisions, I do a better job of seeking out additional information to make more informed decisions. The question reminds me to challenge myself and encourages me to be active about seeking continuous improvement and learning.
As a leader, I would encourage you to ask yourself what you are wrong about on a frequent basis. See where the reflection guides you in terms of topics where you might have more uncertainty than you project. Seek additional knowledge to better discern and assess your decisions. The prompt is not intended to unnecessarily slow decision-making or to inflict an excessive burden of doubt; simply use it to remind yourself of the undeniability of mistakes, the importance of perpetual learning, and the value of acknowledging when course corrections are due. Seek out other leaders who actively engage with you with enough candor to help you find the answers to challenging reflection questions like this; the reward to improving your leadership is growth in your ability to make greater positive impacts on others.