Project Management

Using Reflection to Improve Your Leadership Skills

PMI Toronto Chapter

Bruce is the founder of, a resource for growing IT project managers.

You're about to learn powerful techniques to improve your leadership skills. You don't need a promotion to put these skills to use. Instead, you can start to practice these skills in your next project meeting. Let this be the year when you take the opportunity to improve your leadership skills.

The Surprising Power of Negativity for Improvement

"We cannot explain everything. We know more about what something is not than what something is. If there would have been no word for colour blue, it would still have existed in reality. It would only have been absent in linguistics. But since we don't have a word for it, we couldn't define or comprehend it. But we still could say what it is not. It is not orange. It's not an elephant, etc. This method of knowledge is truer and more rigorous than positive knowledge."
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Known as the "via negativa," this concept is based on the wisdom of not doing something rather than adding something. I first encountered a variation of this idea in a brainstorming meeting years ago at a bank. It took a while for me to see the merit in it. I had thought that more was the way to advance—more hours, more tasks and so forth. As it turns out, the not to-do list is a critical way to improve your focus.

Let's apply this concept to improve your leadership skills. Rather …

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"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

- Mark Twain