The Rewards of CEO Reflection
CEOs live on a nonstop treadmill. They are under constant pressure to perform, live in a 24-7 spotlight of social-media attention, and swim in a deep pool of information. One CEO told us that she had received some 1,000 pieces of advice during her early days as the chief executive.
Corporate organizations are more complex than ever before. BCG’s “index of complicatedness” of major companies has been rising by nearly 7% per year for the past 50 years.
Deep thought and reflection are casualties of this high-pressure and high-stakes environment as CEOs rush from event to event and decision to decision. Downtime is often regarded as wasted time.
CEOs who do make time to reflect, however, say that it is time well spent, and our research on CEO success validates that view. Reflection leads to better insights into innovation, strategy, and execution. Reflection gives rise to better outcomes and higher credibility with corporate boards, leadership teams, workforces, and other stakeholders.
Reflective thinking is thinking turned in on itself. , reflective thought enhances the framing of problems, the search for meaning, and pattern recognition. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, an associate professor of education, psychology, and neuroscience at the University of Southern California, has written about the role of “constructive internal reflection” in “making meaning of new information and for distilling creative, emotionally relevant connections between complex ideas.”