What is reflexive management?

Reflexive leadership is basically about having the courage to think. In other words, it is about becoming a reflexive practitioner who can analyze and critically assess his own practice before, during and after. But why, anyway? What problems can reflexive management solve? Here are five commandments:

Five suggestions on how to run reflexive management


Often, organizations face having to deal with so-called "wicked problems"; i.e. socially, politically and technically complex tasks that cannot be formulated and solved definitively by clear objectives and means. There is therefore a need for some form of management that can understand and manage the complexity and make room for an open and searching problem-solving process.


In complex organizations, there are often many considerations to take into account.  Therefore, there can often be different value orientations, rationales or codes that collide e.g. weighting of efficiency vs. quality, development vs. operation, regulated control vs. self-control, etc. The complexity thus requires creating polyphony out of the cacophony: to orchestrate plurality and handle different voices from each other by continuously regulating and prioritizing on the proven afterthought and forethought.


In today's organizations, there is often a performance-driven culture where everything and everyone is measured by performance and performance. Here the expectation is that capability will increase, as we will have to be able to do more for less. The strong focus on result and effect requires constantly calculating and calculating how, why and when we do what we do. Here is the hope that increased reflection leads to better actions – actions that lead to better and cheaper problem solving. 


Reflexive management is also necessary in a world where speed replaces duration, where nothing is safe and where everything is possible in principle. Thus, at a time when everything is constantly changing, reflexive management becomes a form of risk management that dares to think differently and invite innovative overruns of the known.

Calendar time

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is difficult, but essential to stop and think twice. A period of reflection – so that mistakes can be avoided and innovative development can be ensured. Reflexive management gives more time for leadership – not only time to lead, but also time to think about how to manage.

What can you do to drive reflexive management?

So what specific habits can you practice to develop reflexive management skills? Here you get three concrete strategies that you can use immediately.

3 concrete strategies on how to drive reflexive management

1. Take time for reflective journaling

Spend ten minutes a day - or just ten minutes a week - to begin with. Please use a fixed template to write down your experiences. A structured approach will help you avoid rumination.

2. Find a colleague - and exchange experiences

It may be someone who sits in a similar role. Take time to sit down and share new experiences and experiences together, explore different possibilities and ideas, and develop insights. Exchanging experiences can add a new perspective that you hadn't even considered.

3. Ask reflective questions

As a leader, part of your role is to provide feedback to your team. But try to hold back a little with the advice and instead use questions that help your team develop their own insights. Examples of reflective questions could be: What happened? Why do you feel that way? Why do you think it happened like that? How much is this situation similar to other problems you have encountered before? How could you have done things differently?

If you or your organization need concrete tools to drive reflexive management, please contact us here!

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Nikoline Nybo

BA Anthropology and Chaos Pilot.

Experience in cultural analysis and anthropological methodology, project management and process design, organizational development and facilitation.

Portrait of Louise Marie on a black background. She is facing the camera straight on and wearing a red v-neck jumpsuit.

Louise Marie Genefke

Cand. mag. Marketing & Communication, MA Management and External Lecturer AU.

Experience with management, talent and organizational development, facilitation and Employer Branding.