Have you ever made a mistake as a leader? Or have you made assumptions that were so off they did not seem to relate to the situation? I think we have all had these blunders. If you are a learning and mindful leader, you don’t see these as mistakes; you see them as growth opportunities. Every leadership mistake contains hidden gems of wisdom waiting to be discovered through a process called reflective practice. It’s the process of delving deep into our assumptions, biases, and expectations, which can lead to profound self-discovery and enhanced leadership effectiveness. As a leadership scholar, I firmly believe in the significance of reflecting on these errors to improve our leadership skills and cultivate a more effective and authentic leadership style. Reflective practice is a deliberate process that involves looking back on your actions and decisions with a critical and open mind. This practice encourages leaders (and/or teams) to dissect their mistakes, learn from them, and consciously avoid repeating them. The power of reflective practice lies in its potential to uncover vulnerabilities and opportunities for growth, enabling you to become a better leader. In my teams, I like to call this process a “leadership autopsy.” Just as a forensic autopsy examines the causes of death in a person, a leadership autopsy dissects the factors that led to a leadership mishap or failure. It involves looking over the “dead” event to identify where things went wrong and what can be improved, all with the intention of handling similar situations more effectively in the future. Conducting a leadership autopsy is not for the faint of heart. It demands humility and a willingness to acknowledge your own shortcomings. It requires you to set your ego aside and take a long, hard look at your own actions and decisions, even when it may be uncomfortable or painful. Sometimes, the process can be traumatic. You may uncover instances where you’ve unknowingly inflicted harm or made decisions that hurt your team. But this discomfort is a vital part of the process. Recognizing the harm you’ve caused is the first step toward rectifying it and becoming a better leader. The ultimate goal of a leadership autopsy is growth, learning, and increased leadership effectiveness. As leaders, we are not infallible. We will make mistakes. The key to being an effective and exceptional leader lies in how we handle these mistakes. Embracing reflective practice and conducting leadership autopsies can be transformative, challenging us to confront our own limitations and encouraging us to strive for continuous improvement. It takes humility and courage, but the rewards are immeasurable. So, the next time you make a leadership mistake, remember the power of the leadership autopsy – it’s your opportunity to grow, learn, and become a more effective leader. Subscribe on my website theresarickekiely.com. Follow me on social media @drtheresarickekiely on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. #mindfulleadership #nonprofitleadership Watch for my upcoming book on mindful nonprofit leadership coming soon!