Learning and Leadership: the Importance of Reflection

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
― John Dewey

Learning is critical to effective leadership. If we are lucky, we learn from our mistakes. We also need to understand why our successes worked, so that we can continuously improve on those aspects of our endeavors.

The table below is based on a great little blog post by educator and consultant Karl Kapp, titled: Two Opposite But Important Elements of Learning. It serves as a good reminder that neither interactivity, or reflection are sufficient on their own if the goal is deep learning. Information doesn’t become knowledge until we can connect it to something we already know.


“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
-Peter Drucker

Leadership is a formative practice. A good leader is constantly reflecting on what she or he has just experienced, and tweaking the next approach or strategy. Reflection gives us an opportunity to question assumptions and stereotypes. It reveals our real values, and keeps us honest with ourselves.