November 2023

The Leader's Journal

By Academy Leadership

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Executive Coaching

Before the workday comes to an end, most successful leaders make a journal entry. Keeping a journal allows them a moment to reflect on the day and clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It's often a good problem-solving tool where one can hash out a problem and arrive at a solution easier on paper. The practice is also a valuable habit for professional development and can provide a rich source of information and insights during year-end reviews. It helps you reflect on your achievements, challenges, and growth, facilitating a more meaningful and constructive conversation with your supervisor. This self-reflection contributes to your personal and professional growth as a leader.

Taking the time to keep a journal is a great tool for leaders, helping them develop self-awareness, improve decision-making, track progress, manage emotions, and refine their leadership skills. It's a personal practice that can be tailored to individual preferences and needs. Here are some of the many benefits:

Reduces stress – Journaling has a proven benefit of reducing stress. Once you're journaling, you won't carry as much of what you have written about within you. It is on paper or in the computer. By journaling, you give yourself a powerful form of self-expression, and through that expression you gain clarity, release, and relief.

Problem Solving – An effective way to think through problems until you reach a point of clarity. Putting your problems on paper avoids linear thinking about more complex problems. It allows you to see the many possible solutions so you can evaluate how each one will affect the people involved. Journaling allows you to overcome the brain's functional limitations by expanding the mental working memory that's available for problem solving.

Define Your Dreams and Goals – “Our dreams are the visions that shape our lives. Do you know what your dreams are? Have you stopped dreaming? Sometimes we do. At different points in our journey, both professionally and personally, it is so easy to get caught up in surviving that we stop dreaming. When we stop dreaming, we slowly begin to disengage from our work, from our relationships, and from life itself.” (The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly) What do you want to accomplish? Journaling helps you to actually see and better understand what you want and what is important to you. It gives you the opportunity to explore your dreams and develop the goals that will allow you to realize your life's purpose. You create a personal checklist of things you want to accomplish and develop the action plans to make them happen.

Helps focus – Writing in a journal creates more personal awareness; therefore, more focus on the issues that are important to you. If you want to be a successful leader, you can explore the skills you will need to develop in order to obtain the results you want. You learn to focus on daily leadership opportunities and how you make a difference.

Health benefits – Research has scientifically proven that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions. It improves cognitive functioning while strengthening the immune system which in turn prevents a host of illnesses. Journaling is very therapeutic and counteracts many of the negative effects of stress.

As leaders we often times know what we should do but fail to do it. This is a very common problem called the Knowing–Doing Gap. Journaling is a mechanism to help close this gap. If we spend time each day reflecting on how we did as a leader, we will obtain the focus necessary to close the Knowing–Doing Gap.

Give it a try – Ask yourself:

Regularly reviewing and reflecting on your journal entries can help you refine your leadership approach, foster self-awareness, and continuously evolve as a leader.