Going from a good leader to a great leader with Retrospectives

By John Casey

07 Jul 2014

Just about everyone working today is subject to regular performance reviews. These can be annually, 6 monthly and sometimes even quarterly. A great way to prepare for these reviews is to honestly reflect on your own performance.

I am fortunate to have been in leadership roles my whole career. Sometimes I excelled in those roles and sometimes I fell short. I discovered through Agile a great tool to help me reflect and improve on my performance as a leader – the Retrospective. If you don’t know what that is, look it up on the web, there are plenty of great articles/YouTube videos that explain Retrospectives. As a leader, this is such a useful tool, not just for its use in the Agile working environment but as a tool for personal and professional reflection. How does it work?

Get the facts down!

Set the performance base line – document on a time line what you have done as a leader over the period of time, not just the basic leadership actions that are expected of you, but identify key events where you performed as a leader. This will help to refresh your memory and get your head in the right space to analyse your performance.

Analyse your performance, using the three questions?

  1. What went well? Write down all the things that “went well”, don’t over think this but look at the various actions, events, behaviours you exhibited and write down what you think you did well.
  2. What didn’t go well? Be honest with yourself, write down all the things that didn’t “go well”. Identify situations or events where you didn’t do what was required or weren’t happy with the way you approached it or you didn’t get the result you were after. These are your areas for improvement. A follow-up question for this may be What would I do differently, next time?
  3. What puzzles me? Finally, write down the things that “puzzled” you, either you were not sure what to do, why it needed to be done, or whether what you did worked?

Prepare an action plan

You have now the data to implement an action plan:

The Retrospective is a fantastic tool for leaders. I would be interested to know if you are using retrospectives beyond Agile project delivery and if so how?


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