The Mindful Leader
The effectiveness of a leader depends on self-awareness. The more self-aware a leader is, the more strength wisdom and compassion she will have and more inspiring she will become to the people she leads. Mindfulness is the key that unlocks self-awareness, enabling the leaders to reach their full potential and to lead their teams and organisation to new heights.
This article covers five essential skills for Leaders at Work and at Home, to lead self and others, mindfully, in this highly turbulent world.
1. Practising Self-awareness: Self-awareness is the foundation of effective leadership, if a leader is not aware of her own emotions, stressors, insecurities, fears and desires then they can never lead or inspire others.
a. Learning to calm the Mind: Our minds are constantly running, hiding, defending and attacking. There is so much to do, so many expectations to meet so many people to please every day. In this constant struggle we have somehow lost our way and fogged our minds. To have clarity we need to first learn to calm our minds. This is done through the power of focus. We have the power of focusing on the things we want to focus on, at any given point however the mind keeps drifting away and needs to be brought back.
Let’s practice: Try to focus your attention on your breath, feel the air going in your lungs, fill your lungs completely, hold it for a second and then slowly exhale, feel the air coming out, tell yourself “breathing in” and “breathing out”. Continue it. After the fourth or fifth breath you mind will start drifting away to some other thought, it could be work related or personal. Don’t try to stop it from drifting but stay with it. Experience the drifting mind like passenger in a bus or train and then after a while ask your mind to come back to breathing. Do this exercise every-day for 10 to 15 minutes.
b. Conversations with the inner child: We all have a child inside us who craves for attention, appreciation, affection and acceptance if not given may get hurt or revengeful also known as “EGO” in layman terms. This child influences every decision and even the way we live our lives. Before we start engaging others as Leaders, we need to have a heart to heart conversation with this child.
Let’s practice: Remember this is a dialogue with the child inside us so we need to first close our eyes and imagine a six year old self. Imagine what this child is wearing where is she sitting or standing, introduce yourself to her and ask her to sit down and be comfortable. Now ask her how the day has been. What’s on her mind? Tell her that from now on she has a friend who will always be there for her. If she ever feels scared or stressed out she can reach out to you. Ask her what are her biggest fears and desires, ask her whose attention and acceptance is she craving for, carry on this conversation for some time. Then nicely say goodbye to the child, Hug yourself tightly with both your arms and say “I Love you and I will always be there for you”. Practice this once every day.
2. Taking accountability of Self, Team and the Organisation: A Mindful Leader needs to be aware of all the stakeholders and their interests. She needs to create a triple win within the organisation and outside.
Triple win inside the organisation include: Win for self, team and organisation. At the client site the Triple win includes: Stakeholder, client organisation and client’s client. All decisions and negotiations are then based on making everybody successful.
A mindful leader need to take accountability for everybody’s win and in tough situations does not hesitate in taking help and support of others.
3. Cultivating "The beginner's Mind": What if we lived everyday as if it was our first day on earth? What if we meet others, experience the world like a curious child who is not scared of asking questions or being judged? What if we experience the world as it is and not as we want it to be?
Mindful Leaders practice “letting go”. In order to create long lasting relationships and live life fully we need to look at the world, issues, situations and our relationships from a “beginner’s mind”.
We need to let go of what others have said and done in the past, our failures or even successes. Let us not sit over our laurels or cry over our defeats. With the beginner’s mind a Leader can be free from the bondage of her own mind.
4. Mindfully controlling conscious and unconscious biases: We are all insecure and inferior and need protection and safety from perceived threats. This need of security is the root of all biases. We are hard wired to look for security and for a very longtime security has been provided by “Tribalism” or “Group-ism”.
We consciously and unconsciously create groups like, Country, Colour, Culture, Religion, Race, Gender, Organisation, and Department etc. Once the groups are made we defend them because safety of the tribe means safety of self.
A Mindful Leader is aware of these divides and consciously controls self and others from creating distance or animosity between different tribes. She constantly scans her own beliefs and biases and also her environment at work and at home for tribal beliefs and patterns and keeps effortlessly working toward dissolving these tribes. This results in a more harmonious, productive and cohesive environment.
5. Encouraging and conducting difficult conversations Mindfully: A Mindful Leader is at peace with self and is aware of feelings of hurt, regret, anxiety, uncertainty and anger hence it becomes easy for them to encourage difficult conversations.
During these difficult conversations they experience the thoughts and feelings that are triggered inside their mind and are also able to empathise with the other person feelings.
This thought and emotional intelligence makes the Mindful Leaders extremely effective in conducting difficult conversations.
Next time you need to have a difficult conversation with someone; first, be aware of the debilitating thoughts and feelings of “How would they react?” “Will I be able to handle the situation?” What if the other person accuses me or what if I am not able to justify my stand?” “Will I lose my face, reputation or credibility?” These and many other negative thoughts are normal and we all experience them.Mindful Leaders do not get influenced by these thoughts and feeling but accept them and let them go.
Call us today for Mindful Leadership Skills workshop, we would be glad to be a part of your Mindfulness Journey.
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