Innovative Leadership - Reflection

Authentic Leadership: Reflecting on Vision and Values

Innovative Leadership - ReflectionThis post ends the January four part blog series focusing on “begin with the end in mind” by defining vision, values, putting vision and values in action and now reflecting on the earlier exercises. These exercises offer a strong set of tools to cultivate a regular practice of aligning who we are with what we do.

The following exercise was pulled from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders.

To help you develop your action plan, it is time to further clarify your direction using the reflection questions below. “What do I think/believe?” reflects your intentions. “What do I do?” questions reflect your actions. “What do we believe?” reflects the culture of your organization (i.e., work, school, community), and “How do we do this?” questions reflect systems and processes for your organization. This exercise is an opportunity to practice innovative leadership by considering your vision for yourself and how it will play out in the context of your life.  You will define your intentions, actions, culture, and systems in a systematic manner.

The following table contains an exhaustive list of questions to appeal to a broad range of international leaders. You will likely find that a few of these questions best fit your own personal situation. Focus on the questions that seem the most relevant. We recommend you answer one to three questions from each category.

 Questions to Guide the Leader and Organization

·    What do I think/believe?

·    How do I see myself in the future? What trends do I see around me that impact this view? Have I considered how these trends impact the way I want to contribute?

·    How does my view of myself impact me? Am I inspired by my vision? Terrified?

·    How do I see myself within the larger environment? This can range from my family, the organization, to the international environment.

·    How do I gather input from key stakeholders to incorporate into my vision (family, business, self)?

·    After doing the exercises, what is my vision?

·    After doing the exercises, what are my values? What do I stand for? What do I stand against?

·    What are the connections between my business vision and my personal mission, passion, and economic goals?

What do I do?

·      How do I research trends that will impact my industry so I can understand my future placement and how to navigate potential transitions in my industry?

·      How do I synthesize competing goals and commitments to create a vision that works for me in the context of the communities I serve (family, friends, work, and international community)?

·      How do I develop my vision taking the greater economic conditions into account?

·      What do I tell others about my vision?  Do I have an “elevator speech”?  Is it something I think is inspirational?

·      When others observe me living my vision and values, what observable behaviors would they see?

What do we believe?

·    How does my personal vision fit within the larger context of my family, my community, my industry or my job?

·    How do I create a shared belief that my vision will help the organization succeed within the larger community and also help the community succeed?

·    What do we believe we stand for as an international organization? How should we behave to accomplish what we stand for (guiding principles/values)? Do my values align with the organizational values?

·    How do I reconcile differences between my values and those of my organization? How will these differences impact my ability to develop toward my vision and goals?

How do we do this?

·      How do I monitor the organization’s impact on my vision? How do I honor my vision when helping define/refine the organizational vision?

·      What is our process for defining/refining changes to our shared vision for the organization and other systems I function within? What is our process for clarifying and documenting our values? How do I ensure that my values are aligned with our guiding principles?

·      Who gives me feedback on their perspective of my progress? How often? What form would I like this feedback to take?

·      What measures help me determine progress toward my vision and values? How do I track and report progress toward these goals? Is my behavior supporting the organizational goals? Are the organizational goals supporting my goals?

Following are some answers provided by a leader we will call Steve. He tests as a “Level 5 Leader” as discussed in Good to Great. His answers will reflect that level of thinking and perspective taking.

Introduction to Steve

In his late 50’s Steve was promoted to a global management role for Sales Manager, Aluminum Extrusion Coatings for a large global corporation. He was recently promoted to this job so he is doing the workbook to help him identify the leadership changes he needs to make to succeed in his new role.


My vision is to grow myself personally and professionally by utilizing the scientific education and business experiences and to support the success of others.  I am a committed husband, father, and grandfather and live my values in all areas of my life.


  • Achievement
  • Expertise
  • Work under pressure

Now Steve will answer at reflection questions from each category. He shares these answers with you because reflection is one of the more important skills that all leaders must develop. One important element of this workbook is that you as a developing leader get to read the thought process of a successful global leader. It is rare that many leaders share their inner thoughts and feelings and valuable to see how others approach these questions.

Reflection Questions: What do I think/believe?

How do I see myself in the future?

I see myself as a person who can significantly contribute to this organization thru my extensive technical experience in formulating as well as application dynamics.  While taking on a global role brings significant challenges it is very exciting.  This includes a level of management that is new to me but feel my years of global travel in other roles will serve me well.  Very few people have the opportunity to travel the world and experience many cultures as I have.  Although the time away from home can be difficult the rewards are many.  Even difficulties in logistics, language and simple things like meals can become an adventure and learning experience.

The trends I see around me that impacts this is the globalization of the business community.  We can no longer live as an island in today’s business world and I choose to embrace this new paradigm by taking a leadership role. By doing this I feel I can positively impact my company as well as the industry as a whole.

After doing the exercises, what are my values?  What do I stand for?  What do I stand against?

My top personal values are achievement, expertise, and work under pressure and they are very important to me. I also remain true to the same solid business principles expected in the USA despite tendencies for unethical dealings in some parts of the world.

This is a must to maintain a professional business relationship and keep all dealings legal and ethical.

What I stand for remains constant with good business practices by treating all suppliers, customers, employees and even competitors fairly and as I would like to be treated.  I will always remain loyal to the American standard but must respect all cultures where I travel and do business.

What I stand against is the unethical business practices and most importantly human rights violations.   Understanding different cultures have different beliefs and traditions but these still must meet the basic human rights all people deserve.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Joe DeSousa


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