Research Insights TUM-Study Proves Positive Correlation Between Self-reflection and Successful Leadership

Self-reflection is a key factor towards becoming a better business leader. This is the result of a current study completed by the TUM Chair of Research and Science Management. The findings were presented by authors Dr. Kristin Knipfer, Dr. Ellen Schmid, Nadine Ertel and Natascha Kutschenko in a scientific paper titled “The Reflective Leader: Leadership Learning From Developmental Job Challenges”.

One of the most important findings of the study, presented at the EAWOP Congress 2017 in Dublin: Business leaders are able to master the implementation of new training lessons more effectively if they regularly engage in reflection on their successes and opportunities for improvement. This effect is enhanced by soliciting feedback from their employees regarding their performance. As a sobering fact, the study also concluded that, in day-to-day business practice, leaders only seldom find the time to reflect and rarely obtain feedback – a clear message for leadership development programs.

The study conducted at TUM provides scientific proof: Executive MBA participants, who regularly reflect on their leadership skills and business challenges achieve higher median scores regarding their leadership competence. What’s more, the study also identifies self-reflection as a key learning mechanism supporting the development of an effective leadership tool set.

International studies have also confirmed this strong correlation between reflection and successful leadership: In 2014, a study conducted by Di Stefano and colleagues concluded that leaders, who engage in 15 minutes of self-reflection at the end of their work day are able to boost their performance by 25 percent. These findings highlight self-reflection as a highly effective (and entirely free) technique in the training of effective leadership personnel.

Direct Implementation in Executive Education Offering

The latest research findings are already impacting the curriculum at TUM Executive Education, true to our fundamental approach of evidence-based education. Our academic program combines strategies of effective leadership with an emphasis on self-directed learning processes, for instance by providing systematic feedback and encouraging structured self-reflection.

The TUM Chair of Research and Science Management (Dr. Kristin Knipfer, Dr. Ellen Schmid und Prof. Claudia Peus) supports our MBA program participants by offering a series of sessions to focus on personal leadership development. As the central tool in our efforts, participants receive an individual Leadership Profile, providing personal feedback as the basis for structured self-reflection throughout their successful careers.

For further information regarding the new study as well as our evidence-based education approach, please visit the TUM Chair of Research and Science Management’s official website.

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