A manager is expected to tackle difficult tasks, to show courage, to know how to handle pressure, to choose the right priorities, to take risks and also that he gives himself time to reflect, renew himself and perfect his skills.

You still need to have a mechanism to find your blind spots, otherwise there is a great risk of not allocating your time to what can make a real difference to the organization.

Although a strong capacity for introspection can be useful, nothing beats a dialogue with your team, your colleagues and your boss in order to clearly identify your gray areas and provide yourself with safeguards to remedy them. I readily agree that the process is simple, but not necessarily easy.

You must first convince yourself that having difficult conversations is the necessary step to developing an improved version of yourself. You need to have a certain amount of self-confidence to seek feedback and act consistently, to hear the opinions of others and to put your identity at risk. Ultimately, we must create a climate conducive to genuine exchanges. But once these conditions are met, the culture of silence gives way to discoveries which are not always pleasant, but which are so rich for growing as a manager and a human being.

Let’s take a first question to ask to get to the heart of knowing one’s shadow: What topics of discussion do I tend to avoid in conversations even with people in my immediate circle?

Let’s imagine some responses received from colleagues: we are quickly losing our competitive advantage, our customers are less and less satisfied, we feel obliged to only tell you what you want to hear; you duck every time someone asks a tricky question; you demand an unsustainable pace of work, you tolerate non-performing employees, you lose your compass when the pressure mounts or the obsessive search for efficiency makes you lose your goodwill.

Now let us imagine what the work climate would be like after an appropriate solution has been found for each of the points raised. The work climate would simply be transformed and an important step would have been taken in the long march towards becoming an accomplished leader.

Some of the questions to tame your shadow can only be answered through introspection, such as the following questions: In what situations do I feel myself becoming nervous, hypersensitive and defensive? What types of remarks make me jump? What kinds of criticism annoy or even irritate me? Does the liveliness of my reaction surprise me?

Let’s imagine some answers: I’m nervous when I don’t feel that my skills are up to par, I’m irritated when I don’t feel at the heart of the discussions during a key meeting, I’m angry when I feel betrayed or when a of my important decisions is in doubt.

Now let’s think about the underlying causes and some safeguards that might counteract these harmful emotions. We may be dealing with self-talk that is too harsh or a posture of feeling too often in competition mode and not enough in collaboration mode.

Among the possible safeguards, it is possible to give a trusted person the power to request a “reflection break”, it could be useful to take the time to analyze the situation from the point of view of others or of use your energy in a more positive way by seeking to understand another person’s levers of success.

These decisive hours, those which allow you to go up to the balcony to think lucidly about your main work tool, yourself, are often the most important ones which you forget to include in your diary.