When asked to define the qualities of a leader, many people may use words such as charismatic, opinionated, powerful, and authoritative. Though such descriptions are not incorrect, they are certainly incomplete.
Leaders who value the loyalty and respect of their followers have long known that the key factors in effective leadership are confidence and humility.
Though these qualities may lack in showmanship and garner less attention from the press, they are the currency that matters in establishing a positive workplace culture, abundant with growth and development.
Say Goodbye to Ego
To become not just a leader, but a person that others authentically trust and look to for knowledgeable guidance, one must first face their ego and send it on its way.
Of course, the ego is hard to dismiss, and it is rarely gone forever. Therefore, to maintain the level of humility that is necessary to practice mindful leadership, you will need to employ tools that help to manage your psyche.
To keep your ego at bay and shift the perspective of the one being served to that of being a servant, it is helpful to begin each day with a focus on:
Mindfulness – A regular practice of meditation and deep breathing can broaden our awareness of the world and the people we share it with. This clarity of mind acts as a great reminder that we are all part of a much larger picture.
Equality – Though a leader’s role is vital to any team, it is only one of the many positions that support successful outcomes and results. A dynamic workplace is built upon the skills and talents of everyone, not just the leader.
Curiosity –A transformational leader is one who remains open to learning new things and is keenly aware of their limitations. By maintaining a sense of curiosity and wonder, we can encourage a growth mindset in ourselves and become lifelong learners.
Improvement – No one is perfect, and it is a wise person who learns from their mistakes. Leaders who seek feedback and constructive criticism from their employees are people who choose to improve in areas of significance.
History is full of leadership examples where an individual puts themselves first, and nothing else matters. However, if an environment of integrity and workplace happiness are your desired outcomes, saying goodbye to your ego is a necessity and a blessing.
Empower Others From the Top
Regardless of style, how a leader behaves at the top will always trickle down to affect the rest of the team’s behavior. Though the tactics of leading by example or modeling desired behaviors are commonly mentioned, they are not put into practice nearly enough.
To become a leader that inspires honesty and instills a sense of ownership in their employees, one must set a precedent for the staff to follow. The best way to begin this practice is by exhibiting a level of confidence that communicates volumes to those looking up to you.
Though this may not always be easy, showing a strong commitment to your integrity and values empowers your organization through the following means:
Minimizes Fear – Fear can be healthy, but far too often, it is misplaced and inhibits productivity. If a leader cannot effectively stand behind their beliefs, anxiety and doubt will quickly spread throughout the organization, causing long-term negative effects.
Builds Relationships – A leader who can be compassionate and honest with themselves, will also be able to do the same for their employees. This atmosphere of respect and appreciation helps to build solid relationships and increases employee retention.
Promotes Growth – Delegating tasks that you may have performed in the past can be challenging but giving others the chance to play to their strengths and grow their skillset provides everyone an opportunity to achieve unimaginable success.
Establishes Culture – We all have a desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves, and our workplace is no exception. Considering that people spend most of their waking moments at work, creating a company culture based on acceptance is priceless.
Real confidence may require more effort on some days than others, but it will always be an invaluable tool in becoming the change you want to see in others.
Align Yourself Wisely
Evidence of genuine humility and real confidence is the ability to ask for help when it is needed. For those in charge, seeking support from others may feel like a sign of weakness and insecurity, but when done openly and honestly, it is a display of strength and wisdom.
When such times arise, it is crucial that any support and guidance come from resources that align with the mission statement of the organizational leader. If one is looking for input on how to create more balance in their schedule to avoid burnout, they would not consult individuals who value their profits more than time with their family.
By aligning with mentors and colleagues that support your vision of leadership, you can continue to cultivate the resilience and determination it takes to sustain your journey.
Leading Throughout Life
A humble and dedicated leader is the foundation from which everything else grows, making it one of the most difficult and rewarding roles one can have.
Though this leadership path may be less traveled than others, making an effort to replace ego with humility and oust fear with confidence will create a transformational ripple effect throughout your life and beyond.
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.