Taking Note of Leadership Lessons


There is truth in the adage “Experience is the best teacher.” But how can we best capture the lessons experience teaches?  A few years ago, I started recording experiences and insights related to my pastoral leadership. I organized the document first in terms of the key elements of my job. Then, I continued with sections on great ideas, quotes, and practical knowledge related to leading well. These “Leadership Notes” have been a valuable way for me to capture my own insights and the insights of others. And they enable me to reflect on my own practice of leadership.

When you arrive at a new personal insight regarding your own leadership, stop and write it down before it’s gone.

I recommend this practice to anyone in charge of leading anything — whether it is a church, a classroom, a business, a non-profit, or a community organization. Regardless of whether you are an expert in your role, simply by virtue of doing the job, you are in a unique position to learn about what is required and how to do it better. Starting a “Leadership Notes” document will help.

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • When you arrive at a new personal insight regarding your own leadership, stop and write it down before it’s gone.
  • As you come across meaningful ideas from others, capture their thoughts as soon as possible so you can revisit them and put them to use. Record things that get your attention in conversations, articles, books, websites, or tweets.
  • Once you have captured this snapshot of thoughts and ideas, use it to review and refine your understanding and practice of leadership. You gain the most value when you have an ongoing conversation with yourself about these thoughts. I review my “Leadership Notes” about every three months. I tinker with how I’ve expressed ideas, I remember something I forgot, or I hunt for things I need that are recorded in this document.

You can start today by creating a new document, typing number “1,” and starting to write! Begin with the question: What is an insight you need to capture now about your leadership?


About Author

Guy M. Williams is senior pastor of United Methodist Temple, Port Arthur, Texas,

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