Category Archives: Reflective Leadership

Guest Blog: Leadership for the Solo Entrepreneur?

Recently, I was lucky enough to host a book club discussion for Hanging the Mirror.

I was immediately drawn to this book because, in my work as a consultant to small business owners, I feel like the biggest problem they face is not access to smart strategies or good workers.  The most pressing problem is a lack of self reflection within their business.

So often, I work with clients who are quick to point fingers to external forces that impact their business.  What’s always missing is a sense of personal responsibility for the choices they make in their business.

The group discussing the book was made up of small business owners including some solo-entrepreneurs with no staff.

The most divisive issue that emerged during the discussion was whether or not a book on leadership was relevant to someone who doesn’t have any staff.  Do you need to acquire leadership skills if you have no staff to lead?

What I learned from Hanging the Mirror is that the concept of self-reflection is relevant to any business owner regardless of whether or not he or she has staff.  Every business benefits from an owner who can reflect on their beliefs and recognize how those beliefs impact the actions they take within their business.

Even if you’re starting as a solo-entrepreneur, it’s likely that you will be growing and bringing on staff.  It’s never too early to start learning about what makes a great leader, and Hanging the Mirror is precisely the book that will help you understand how to excel in that role.

Holly Howard is the founder of Ask Holly How, a New York City based consulting company focused on helping skilled artisans make the leap to become savvy entrepreneurs.  See for more information.   

Involvement, Group Decision-Making, and the Path to Optimum Solutions

Involving employees in decisions that affect them and their work is crucial to capturing the human spirit in the workplace. Leaders, however, often resist involving employees in day-to-day affairs. Such reluctance stems in large part from leaders’ perceptions of both themselves and their employees. Because they were promoted into a position of leadership (and their… Continue Reading

Workplace Vision in Action: One Example

Employees can bring many things to the office, but workplace vision is not one of them. Vision is an element of organizational culture, and culture derives most directly from the actions and choices of leaders at all levels. But what does it mean for a leader to instill vision in to a workplace? What does… Continue Reading

Capturing the Human Spirit

Many employees are cynical, apathetic, disillusioned with their work. This is a sad truth of the workplace. What is also true, though, is that none of us want to feel that way about our employment. We would all rather be motivated than unmotivated, rather be fired up about the work we do than indifferent. Given… Continue Reading

Taking Stock: Three Critical Elements

Crucial to growth as a leader is a comprehensive process of personal stock-taking, an ongoing discipline of objectively looking at our actions and beliefs and considering the effect they have on the individuals and systems around us. Though such reflection encompasses many constituent elements, three seem to be of particular importance: knowledge, choice, and perception.… Continue Reading

Perceptions, Authority, and Perceptions of Authority

Managers today often perceive relatively little hierarchical “distance” between them and their subordinates. Yes, they might shoulder certain responsibilities and make the final call in certain situations. But they generally see themselves as part of the team. That perception, though, is in many ways a consequence of the very authority they hold (and their subordinates… Continue Reading

What We Believe, What We Think We Believe (3 of 3)

The first part in this series introduced the concept of the espoused theories we consciously believe in and the theories-in-use that actually determine our choices and behavior. The second installment explored how it is not only possible, but likely for there to be differences between those two sets of theories. But what can be done… Continue Reading

What We Believe, What We Think We Believe (2 of 3)

The first part in this series introduced the idea of espoused theories and theories in use. It also raised the possibility that the principles each of us consciously support might not be what are actually shaping our behavior and decisions. But what does this look like in practice? In our consulting work we were once… Continue Reading

What We Believe, What We Think We Believe (1 of 3)

Assessing minute-by-minute choices is a key aspect of the discipline of reflective leadership. But building a true picture of how we act turns out to be surprisingly difficult. Part of the difficulty stems from the way we think about our behavior. We all act in accordance with mental “maps” of what we believe to be… Continue Reading

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