Reflective Executives, Where are you hiding?

by cv harquail on July 9, 2009

One of my blogging e-mentors asked “If you had one question about blogging that you could have answered with a magic wand, what would that question be?” I’m a big fan of magic wand questions— I use them all the time with my kids, and so I took the bait.

My one question? Where do I find (more) reflective executives? Not just executives who are more reflective, but more of them, too.

Snapshot 2009-07-01 12-31-32.tiffWhy this question? It comes down to the whole idea of niche blogging and blogging for a particular audience. As I have been putting together advice and insights to share at our Workshop on Blogging for Management Scholars, I’ve been contrasting my practice with ‘best practice’.

Probably the thing I do the least “well” as a blogger is target my audience. Despite having a regular group of readers, a happy number of subscribers, and gradually rising ‘good quality’ traffic, I haven’t put much effort into targeting my niche as “authority bloggers” would recommend.

Why? I think it’s because I’m not sure that the ‘niche’ exists. So, my questions for you, dear readers:

Where do you should I look for the reflective executives, the managers who think not only about their own leadership, or their own personal branding, but also about corporate strategy and reputation?

Where can we look for the managers who, despite their place in the middle of an organization, rise above the limitations of their defined roles to take an enterprise perspective? (And yes, Darden EMBA students, I’m talking about you…)

Where can we find the managers, in both for-profit and not for profit organizations, who put organizational purpose first?

Most importantly, where can we find any of these kinds of reflective executives online (beyond the HBR site).

As I encourage more management scholars to turn outwards toward practitioners (managers & consultants), how can I help them and all of us find the kind of readers who’d be interested in posts that engage their critical thinking, connective thinking, and personal reflection?

Any ideas? Where do we go to find more readers like you?

Figure from:

Executive MBA Programs: The Development of the Reflective Executive, K. D. Roglio & G. Light (2009). Academy of Managment Learning & Education, v 8 (2) June 2009


Fran Simon July 9, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I suggest The Center for Creative Leadership at and Linked2Leadership Check out the many leadership groups on LinkedIn.

CV Harquail July 14, 2009 at 10:40 am

Thanks Fran for that suggestion. Are their any LinkedIn groups that you think are particularly great, or broad in their approach to leaderhship? I’ll go check out the linked2leadership site…

Willa Geertsema July 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Ha, great question! The comments I get on my blog are mostly from peers who like to reflect on things publicly and discuss them with each other. ‘Reflective executives’ usually don’t comment on the blog itself but write emails to me – so that no one will see their responses.

So yes, they seem to be hiding out. Perhaps they have good reasons… so should we change the question to: how do we create a culture where leaders can be seen as reflective without fearing for their reputation??

A. Ayad August 5, 2009 at 5:47 am

Well, attached are two “published” papers that are reflective in nature. They are writen by a $250 million retail business leader:
Ayad, A. (2008). Optimizing inventory and store results in big box retail environment. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 36 (3), 180-191
This is a case study that emphasizes the role of people. It proves that different stores within same companies and different departments within same stores deliver different results due, mainly, to human factors: specifically, critical thinking, functional knowledge, and leadership.

Ayad, A. (2005). The Cause and Effect of My Quality Journey. Quality Progress, 38 (10), 83
This paper summarizes personal reflections on the concept of quality. It argues that quality is more than data analysis, surveys, methodologies, systems, quality models, organizational structures, strategy development and deployment, standards, audits and certifications. More importantly, it recapitulates a journey to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union that made the author aware of quality as it relates to philosophy, ideology and society. It briefly discusses how quality can be a philosophy, and how quality can be a major contributor to top line and bottom line in business settings.

John Sills November 17, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Getting back to LinkedIn groups that people think are particularly great. I like the discussions at the General Electric Alumni Group. They have a lot of critical thinking discussions. You could look at other company linkedin sites that are well managed and have past reflective management.

cv November 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm

John that’s a great idea… I think I tend to overlook LinkedIn since it isn’t a place where my scholar-friends hang out, and my social media friends are all on Twitter… but, I need to get myself over to where those reflective practitioners could be. I’ll go looking! thanks—

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