Refining Life, on Purpose

How Mirrors Can Be Powerful Leadership Tools

There are many leadership tools that can be used in life and business. As a leader, pack the mirrors, but leave the microscopes at home.

If you are a leader or want to be a leader, and you are trying to identify good leadership tools, I suggest you pack a mirror. Yes, leaders are expected to have and share a vision. They need to set a direction and clear a path forward. While we commonly think of a mirror as a means of looking in the rear-view or seeing ourselves, I would content that mirrors can also be used as a power leadership tools for guiding others on the road ahead.

Mirrors are Leadership Tools for Self-Reflection

The most obvious use of a mirror is to look at one’s self. In many ways, this is associated with narcissism and arrogance.  The most well-known example is that of the Evil Queen in the Snow White story.

In another way, though, looking at one’s self in a mirror can be one of the best leadership tools available. By looking into a mirror, we have one of the few occasions in life to be really honest with ourselves. We have an ability to consider if it is reflecting the kind of person we desire. We have an ability to acknowledge our own humanity and humility and work toward refining our lives, on purpose.

This doesn’t mean to pick yourself apart and call yourself names. Rather, it’s an opportunity  observe what is right and where you might need some work.

When I look into a mirror, I remind myself that I’m created in God’s image. What I see is what he sees – and that is his child, whom he loves. What better way to begin your day?

Mirrors are Leadership Tools for Keeping Others Engaged

The as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy.” – Nehemiah 4:14

Because they spend the vast majority of their time focused on the path of the future that lies ahead, leaders have a perspective that is different from their followers. By definition, it can be easy for them to ignore or not see what is going on behind them. As a leader, you see beyond where they are today.

That’s important to remember, because you can’t assume the team you are counting on to navigate with you will have that same vision. You also must remember that, even though you feel like you have cleared the best path possible, that some other obstacle has not crept its way into their day-to-day. That new obstacle could be taking up their resources and perhaps even misdirection them from pursuing the vision.

In this example from Nehemiah, the Israelites were intimidated by enemy soldiers. Nehemiah took a glance in the mirror and saw his team paralyzed. He knew that it was a risk to the vision. So, he took a moment to pause, gather everyone and remind them what they were working toward and what was in store.

He paused to keep the team engaged and focused. It got them back on track and restored momentum to their side.

There are many leadership tools that can be used in life and business. As a leader, pack the mirrors, but leave the microscopes at home.

There are many leadership tools that can be used in life and business. As a leader, pack the mirrors, but leave the microscopes at home.

Mirrors are Leadership Tools for Magnifying Your Focus

The main function of any mirror is to reflect light. Similarly, that’s one of the main functions of any believer in God – to reflect HIS light. A magnifying mirror also concentrates that light to make a larger image. Because it has a concave or spherical shape, the light is concentrated more as it approaches the main focal point.

Magnifying mirrors are most often used in makeup compacts or in retail stores to help employees see what’s happening with the customers in places that would otherwise be hidden.

Similarly, as leadership tools, magnifying mirrors can be used on various. For one, they can help you see peak performances and put strong performers into a spotlight of sorts. This is great for esteem and showcasing strong examples to others. Conversely, leaders will want to use a magnifying mirror to monitor the behaviors of sheep in those hidden places – whether the activities are of following sheep or wolves seeking to devour.

Mirrors are Leadership Tools for Judging Distance

When Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin came home from their lunar landing, the left behind a mirror array on the surface of the moon. This action allowed Earth-based astronomers to release a laser light at that target. It has been used for monitoring distance and orbital patterns, resulting in discovery that the moon is moving away from Earth at a rate of two-and-a-half inches a year.

It was also used to check Einstein’s theory of gravity (general relativity).

As far as leadership tools go, can you take action to “ping” your future destination and then make judgements that might be helpful for you and your team? Can you send something ahead to test the waters. A/B Testing perhaps? Talk with others in your industry who have navigated similar paths before you to learn from their lessons?

Mirrors are NOT Microscopes

Keep in mind that all these examples are drawn from the use of mirrors. As leaders, we might think that microscopes make good leadership tools. However, I have never used a microscope and not had to close an eye. They’ve also forced me take my eye off the bigger vision, thus delaying momentum and progress,

As a leader, pack the mirrors, but leave the microscope at home.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.