Introspection and Leadership

In·tro·spec·tion – the act of looking within oneself. When I talk with leaders, they all agree they should take more time for introspection. When I ask them, “How would you do that?” They generally don’t have a clue.

Introspection needs a “pump primer”. I don’t simply sit in a chair and say to myself, “Well, what do I see?” Introspection is catalyzed by fully participating in activities that take me out of traditional conversations and into ones that touch my spirit. Some people read. Joseph Badaracco, a professor at the Harvard Business School, talks about the power of reading fiction for introspection in his book, Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership through Literature.

For others, it might be painting or horseback riding or carpentry. It’s about throwing oneself completely into this activity so that all the threads to the operational world are quieted and the act of introspection arises. Great leaders know the importance of this practice and they value it as much as a meeting with their most important constituents.

My personal practice for introspection is reading and writing poetry. When I lose myself into the feeling that comes from being with a poem, a mirror arises and I see myself in ways that were not possible before. A recent poem that touched my soul follows this post.

I encourage you to find your place to lose yourself. While I talk about leaders in this blog, I really mean you, for each of us is a leader in some way.

Until later,


What Can I Say

What can I say that I have not said before?
So I’ll say it again.
The leaf has a song in it.
Stone is the face of patience.
Inside the river there is an unfinishable story
and you are somewhere in it
and it will never end until all ends.

Take your busy heart to the art museum and the
chamber of commerce
but take it also to the forest.
The song you heard singing in the leaf when you
were a child
is singing still.
I am of years lived, so far, seventy-four,
and the leaf is singing still.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

5 thoughts on “Introspection and Leadership”

  1. Thomas……I adore Mary Oliver, my favorite poet….and I,too, find a stillness in reading good poetry…….I also like my friend Don Hynes (who also has a blog). and William Stafford…..anything that speaks directly to my heart.

  2. Hello, I would like to use this image in my book. I tried to look for it in but couldn’t find it could you assist? thank you

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