This morning I was reminded that true leadership starts with leading yourself. And we are all leaders – regardless of whether we run our own business, work for someone else, or are unemployed. That is because leadership is about influence.

Harry Kraemer, professor of management and strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, asserts that the number one task for all leaders is to be self-reflective. This activity is what enables a leader to truly understand herself, identify what she values and make informed leadership decisions that guide or lead her behaviors.

When was the last time you spent time quietly reflecting on your beliefs? Was it for longer than five minutes? I know, this is challenging to put into the calendar. And it doesn’t feel much like work, let alone important work. And yet, it is truly important.

Mr. Kraemer likes to do his self-reflection at the end of the day. During this time he reviews his day to see what went well and what didn’t. He thinks about both what he would do again, in the same way, and what he would do differently the next time. He also thinks about what he didn’t accomplish that he really would have liked to have completed. And, why is it important to him to do this? In other words, what about this task speaks to his internal values system?

I’m going to keep this post briefer than most and ask you to take the time you would have used to read a longer post and pause for a moment of self-reflection. If it’s early in the day, think about what is most important to accomplish. And then think about why it’s important to you. What is the lasting impact that this is going to create in the world, or in your personal world? If your day is mostly over, think about the tasks you accomplished today. What impact will they have in the future? Did you place your priorities in the right places? What would you do differently if you had the chance?

Now shhhhhhhh! Enjoy your quiet reflection and have a great day!