Why Every Leader Should Stop and Take a Look Back at How Far They’ve Come

Just like retrospectives are important after building a software product, looking back at your career is a great way to understand what you’ve learned. Looking back periodically is like restarting your computer; it gives you freshened perspectives. In leadership, reflecting on what you’ve learned is a kind of rite of passage that allows you to keep moving forward. How can this process help you be a better leader in the years ahead? What are the benefits of this process?

Leaders That Look Back Inspire Confidence in What’s Ahead

Self-reflection is one thing, but doing a retrospective with a team or even with a company can help build confidence and improve processes toward the next milestone. It’s an opportunity to reward teams, inspire, and energize them for the next push and the next milestone.

You can use a sprint project retrospective to handle this process with a team. The format can even work for your internal look back. This next section will help you understand the spring retrospective and how you can apply it in your leadership role.

Why Sprint Retrospectives Are Effective for Looking Back

Retro meetings are structured to give teams the time they need to look back on a completed project. You can identify successes and failures, improvement areas, and pat yourselves on the back for a job well done. The benefits of looking back in a more structured way with a team include the following:

  • Builds a safe environment for transparent feedback.
  • Improves team culture.
  • Honors the past.
  • Energizes them for the work ahead.
  • Helps the team (and you) learn and improve.
  • Highlights weaknesses and strengths as a learning opportunity, not a beat down.
  • Helps set realistic goals for the next project, milestone, or goal. (Again, these can be for an individual or a team and personal or professional goals.)
  • Improves your insight and planning.

Leaders must first engage in a retrospective for themselves. Looking back in this way can keep you honest and humble as you recognize how far you’ve come and what mistakes you’ve made along the way. Being self-reflective enough to pursue your retrospective process will help you innovate new strategies to improve your thinking and behaviors that ultimately benefit the team around you. That’s why thinking about your history is essential to staying focused on improving as you move forward.

Interestingly, this process can be very helpful if you teach managers and managers teach their teams how to engage in a retrospective or look back as part of their regular reviews. Think how powerful this could be.

Take a new employee as an example. If your goal is to retain that worker for the long-term, you want to create the kind of environment where they see themselves succeeding in the future. What if, at the 90-day mark, the manager sits down with that new employee and looks back at what they learned? Even more powerful, what if you asked that employee to create a career roadmap for one year, three years, and so on down the road. Where does that employee want to head with your company? An even better question for the manager is—how can you help that tech worker achieve their goals for a long career?

In today’s fast-paced tech world, it’s hard for everyone—from leaders to first year employees—to find the time they need to look back. But this process is critical for companies that want to continue to look forward into the future.

Blackstone Technology Group works with IT talent to assess their goals for their future. If you’re ready for a career change, why not start a conversation with our team?

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