When do you think was the first time that you saw the leader in you opened up?
What has been the strongest impression of you being a leader?
Now, a lot of you will possibly recollect one of those meetings where you excelled. You will possibly go back to the days when you led a team at work and had some deliverables being done.
Or, you could go back to those times when you were leading an organization strategy and you were driving the organization towards doing certain things.
But I ask you again…
When Was The First Time That You Thought You Were a Leader?
If you retrospect a little, you will realize that we have all been leaders right from the time we were children. Whether it was about making rules about lagori or deciding what we all prepare and bring for our cooking at a potluck when friends meet. We have seen that as children all of us have exhibited these traits of leadership, isn’t it?
And, why is it that, this gets subdued when you talk of leadership?
My humble opinion is that when we talk of leadership, since natural leadership is so innate to all of us, the game changer in today’s industry is mindful leadership and that is our topic for this blog.
What is Mindful Leadership?
Normally, when you talk of leadership, you talk of high outcomes. You talk of big changes, turnkey projects, turnkey revenues, and the number of people increasing, and that’s great! It’s amazing because that’s what as business leaders you have to talk about.
But, the good news is that the world is opening up to forms of leadership that require leaders to have that extreme emphasis on being mindful, of how they are leading, and not just what they are leading. This is mindful leadership for you.
3 Crucial Aspects Of Mindful Leadership
In my opinion mindful leadership consists of three key parameters. This consists of being extremely self-aware, the one with being journey-focused, and being an inspiration. Let’s pick up each one of these to discuss in a little more detail.
Aspect 1: Being Extremely Self Aware
The first aspect of being an extremely mindful leader is how self-aware you are when you lead the people around you.
Are you living what you’re talking about? Are you practicing what you are preaching?
Are you taking them toward being aware of what are the thoughts in their head?
Organizations and corporations are spending so much on behavioral studies of their employees but what is a missing gap is the aspect of how your leaders are being groomed to become self-aware.
Yes, we talk of top brass being extremely self-aware. But, when you’re talking of managers being created who are eventually going to grow up to become industry leaders your self-awareness journey has to start from there.
What Are You Self-Aware About?
When we say self-awareness, you should be aware of what you’re thinking, how you’re thinking, why are you thinking, and the way you are thinking and then translating that into actions which means that when you’re a mindful leader it is not just about being empathetic but it is about being completely aware of how that entire journey of empathy works for your particular teams and your particular employees. How you can put into practice what you are thinking.
Let’s face it.
The more self-aware you are as a leader, the question you’re going to be asking is what best can I do right now? When that happens you’re going to be looked up to as a go-to person in times of crisis.
You’ll be trusted when there are critical and tough decisions to be taken, and most importantly your employees would want to stay loyal to the organization or to the team that you are leading.
Therefore, I strongly believe that the first key parameter of mindful leadership is being self-aware.
Aspect 2: Being Journey-Focused
The second aspect of mindful leadership is how journey-focused you are as a leader.
Being a leader, outcomes must be given the focus. The outcomes should drive you as a leader.
The vision and the strategy are planned but in that whole journey of you being extremely outcome-focused, are you mindful as a leader? Are you completely aware as a leader of the journey that your employees or your team members are taking?
Are you aware of the hands-on challenges that they are facing?
Are you aware of not just the challenges but how they are feeling when they are handling those challenges?
Are you aware of what they are learning along the journey as they deliver that outcome that you are inspiring them to deliver?
Ask yourself this is a leader:
How focused on the journey are you versus how focused are you on the outcome?
Asking these questions yourself can be great mindful leadership exercises. We are so groomed, we are so tuned towards focusing only on the outcome. A lot of leaders claim that they give you the freedom to do what you want, to get the desired outcomes. That’s great as long as it remains freedom. But the moment you become aloof as a leader, then we have a bad boss problem.
So ask yourself this, to be in line with the second aspect –
How focused are you on the journey as much as you’re focused on the outcome as a leader?
The moment you become aware of this you will focus on making that experience better for yourself as well as your team members.
Usually, people and culture teams, even the HR teams are having exorbitant budgets to make sure that employees feel connected and engaged.
But most times it becomes very late in the whole story. So, when that happens, that one thing that can make a difference is that you are focusing on the journey of the whole thing versus just the outcome. This will make sure that your team members look up to you as a mindful leader again.
You will become the go-to person when they are stuck for directions in that journey.
Aspect 3: How Much You Inspire People?
The third aspect of mindful leadership is the acts that show how much you inspire people. We have so many motivational talks and inspiring people in our society who drive us towards being inspired by them.
As a leader, you will move people to be inspired by you. But as a mindful leader, you will create employees in such a way that they become benchmarks for themselves. They become inspirational personalities such that they feel good about themselves.
They are bringing out a better version of themselves every time they are under your leadership. When that happens, what automatically comes is better productivity. It results in better efficiency, better belongingness, and better loyalty to the organization. It evolves the team that you are leading.
Therefore, being a mindful leader is not a luxury in this era, it is a requirement of the day. It can become something that will question the very survival of leadership in the industry when we talk about it.
The three key aspects of mindful leadership –
- Be self-aware. Ask yourself how self-aware you are irrespective of what level of leadership you have.
- Be journey-focused. Keep a check on how journey-focused you are in your leadership endeavor.
- Be Inspirational as you create your teams.
With that said we’d like to wish you extremely good journeys as a leader and of course urge you to be mindful.
This blog is a transcription of Atomic Talk on Mindful Leadership by Sreekala Sunderrajan at Testflix 2021.