mindful leadership: leading without ego and with empathy
Behind every operating organization, is a leader standing at the helm, charged with communicating and implementing a company’s mission to the people. A primary leadership function, this delivery can be performed in all manner of styles, from authoritative to fear-based to laissez-faire.
Each style can bring about desired outcomes like increased profits and pleased shareholders, but leading through fear, absolute power, or a hands-off approach will come at a cost to your human resources.
To avoid following in the steps of the many leaders and managers who have created such adverse workplace environments, consider your leadership role and the type of culture you prefer to establish. If it is to be based on trust, respect, value and satisfaction, mindful leadership is the best way to achieve it, and there are key ways to not only learn this style but to practice it consistently and effectively.
Re-evaluate Your Mindset
There is a particular drive and intensity that many future leaders possess as they set out to make a name for themselves and rise through the ranks. This determination serves them well, but the source of this energy is often ego, further fueled by a lack of life experience.
To adjust to a leadership role, and develop genuine relationships within the organization, this ego-based mindset must be re-evaluated and acknowledged, as it will not bring about the results you desire.
When you advance from one position to another, consider the following behaviors that once paved the way, but could now be obstacles in your path:
Tunnel Vision – After years of keeping your eye on the ball and blazing the trail to the success you sought, you are now sharing the journey with others, and tunnel vision will prevent a company-wide sense of community and belonging.
Relentless Pursuit – Becoming a transformative leader does not mean you give up the pursuit of big dreams and goals, but it does mean you slow down your pace, practice routine self-care, and get a good night’s rest instead of pulling all-nighters.
Superiority Complex – You ascended to the top based on hard work, intelligence, and perseverance, so it is natural to feel a bit superior. However, now is the time to delegate, listen, and allow your energy to empower others, not just yourself.
We should not abandon our past tendencies, as they are a part of us and will inform how we guide our company’s to greatness. Therefore, reflect upon the old habits and traits that proved useful as you started your solo-career and evaluate how valuable they are to the collective mission you are pursuing now.
Lead by Example
Are leaders born or made? This age-old question continues to be debated, with solid examples to support each side. Some people are inherently charismatic and confident and naturally fall into leadership roles, whereas others develop effective leadership skills over time.
Regardless of which side of the argument you find yourself on, a positive leader, who earns the trust and loyalty of their followers will always be leading by example, consistently exhibiting humility and empathy.
To initiate this process in yourself, commit to these simple mindfulness practicesand make them a part of your life:
Meditation and Reflection – Create or find a calming environment and be still. With studies showing positive results from only 5-20 minutes of daily meditation, focus on quality, not quantity and reap enduring rewards.
Be of Service – A humble leader knows they are a servant to their followers and must support the tireless efforts and hard work of those that keep the company running. The servant-leader knows it is their job to empower and motivate, not control and direct.
Remain Open – No one knows everything, but a lot of people in power think they do. Nurture a beginner’s mind within yourself and remain open to diverse opinions, approaches and concepts that will foster innovation and confidence in your staff.
As you release yourself from an ego-driven past, you can begin developing the mindset of a coach instead, enabling you to become the change you want to see in the workplace culture at large.
Broaden Your Awareness
When you choose the path of mindful leadership and submit to the disciplines it relies upon to function, you will quickly realize it is a challenging adventure rarely experienced by others. However, though difficult, and sometimes lonely, the rewards of mindful leadership are unimaginable, broadening the awareness of yourself and those around you.
A company’s bottom line will always be critical to its ultimate success, but a wise leader knows this is just one piece of a much larger puzzle. By recognizing the significance of the people who bring to life the mission statement you issued, all departments can feel heard, seen, and valued, regardless of the duties they perform.
Being a good leader and transforming the organization you are in charge of may seem daunting, but the recipe is quite simple. Be willing to question your motivations, continue to learn from others, and commit to a mindful existence that cannot fail you in the end.
Pandit Dasa is a mindful leadership expert, motivational keynote speaker and author who has spoken at Fortune 500 companies and helps organizations improve employee engagement, retention and workplace happiness. He helps individuals develop positive leadership qualities, lower stress and anxiety, increase focus and productivity and boost emotional intelligence.