Mindful leadership is not only the key to success but is critical to our well-being, happiness and peace of mind. Whether it’s you or I leading our own personal lives in this uncertain world or the CEO at the helm of the world’s largest business, leadership matters.
In his article, 6 Steps Towards Mindful Leadership, Taylor Kreiss writes, ‘What does an ideal leader look like? Wise? Formidable? An incredible listener? The soul of a monk with the action orientation of a superhero?’
It’s a topic that has been written about for centuries. Its nature is professional, personal, academic and highly practical. It matters because nothing changes without it. History books are teeming with lessons in leadership which have shaped the world; for the better and worse.
In a previous article I wrote called, ‘10 annoying leadership habits to avoid at all costs’ , I shared some of my key leadership frustrations experienced over the last 3 decades. It seemed to have caused quite a stir at the time; perhaps because so many people could relate to its content.
For every negative there has to be a positive and this article sets out to create that balance. The same 3 decades have taught me that there are certain characteristics and behaviours that we need from our leaders. The people you are leading are making 10 requests from you. Going out of your way to fulfill them to the best of your ability is the distinction between a mindful leader and a mediocre one.
You don’t have to have ‘The soul of a monk with the action orientation of a superhero’ to be a mindful leader. Your team just want 10 things from you:
1. Know me
I don’t want you to be my best friend, hug me and call me ‘buddy’ every time we pass each other in the corridor. I would like you to know my name, what I do and why I do it. If you know roughly how long I’ve worked for the business, whether I’m married and have a family that would be great too.
If you have some idea of what makes me tick in terms of my values that would be wonderful. If you took a little time to understand what motivates me, what frustrates me and what really annoys me that would work as well. If you had any idea what’s stopping me from doing the best job I can for you and what’s getting in my way that would be nice.
2. Show me
Until you show me otherwise, all I can see is your title and car parking space. If you could just give me a glimpse of the real you so that I could relate to you on a personal level that would be so reassuring.
I know you are the CEO or Head of … but who are you really behind the title.
Are you really like me or completely different. Do you have hopes, fears, dreams like I do? What keeps you awake at night and what matters to you outside of work? Show me who you are apart from my boss.
3. See me
If I come to your office to share a problem, idea or opportunity it would be so helpful if you would look at me. I know the email or management report in front of you is really important but if you could break your gaze from it for a brief moment, I’d really appreciate it.
In fact, anytime we are in discussion, if you could pay exclusive attention to me in that moment, I’d really appreciate it. I respect and value your time so please do the same with me; please don’t be so easily distracted.
4. Ask me
I do understand how difficult and challenging your job is. I realise that you have to make difficult decisions sometimes. What would be great is if it affects me personally and professionally is if you took a brief moment to ask me how I feel about it. I recognise that my thoughts and feelings can’t always influence your decision or actions but it’s still nice to be asked.
If you gave me the confidence to challenge your thinking perhaps you could ask me what I would do instead. I’ll respect your decision but I’ll respect it even more if I knew you took the time to discuss it with me openly first.
5. Be me
I realise how busy you are but I would take so much more comfort if I believed that you had put yourself in my position for a moment. Do you know what I do, do you know how hard I work? Do you truly understand the consequences of what you propose because it looks good on paper or sounds good to the board?
You don’t have to change your decision, but please be me for a moment before you make it mindfully.
Do you have any idea what it’s like to be me; do you even care?
6. Teach me
You recruited me for my knowledge, expertise, experience and character, thank you. That doesn’t mean I know it all though.
Please help me to learn, grown and develop.
Teach me, coach me and show me what excellence looks like. Help me to be the very best that I can be and prepare me for the next step.
I don’t have the answer to everything. I’m human just like you and vulnerable.
When I’m lost guide me.
When I’m confused enlighten me.
When I’m down, pick me up.
When I don’t know the answer, point me in the right direction.
7. Free me
I like nothing more than guidance and support from you but please don’t smother me. If you give me a task, project or piece of work to do then please let me get on with it. Give me the space and freedom to learn from my own mistakes.
By all means keep an eye and guide me where appropriate but don’t check in every 5 minutes asking me ‘how’s it going’ or telling me what you see.
Please coach and empower me to be all that I can be.
8. Tell me
As much as I’d love to be, please remember I’m not a mind reader. I don’t really know who you are, what makes you tick and what you want.
Tell me what I can do to help make your life easier at work. Tell me what you want and expect from me.
What can I do to help you?
9. Lead me
I don’t want to be motivated, that’s my job. I want to be inspired. I want you to show me the future. If I’m going to work for you for 7, 10 or 12 hours a day, what’s it really for. Please don’t tell me it’s for a payslip. I can get that anywhere. I need more.
What’s the vision; what does the future look like for all of us.
If you want me to come in to work on time and not leave early, you should do the same.
If you want me to present with impact in meetings then you should do the same.
If you want me to show empathy and respect then you should do the same.
10. Challenge me
Don’t let me stare at the clock all day because I’m bored and can’t wait to go home.
Help me to step outside of my comfort zone and support me to grow, develop and change.
If you’d like to discover and apply the principles of transparent,authentic and inclusive leadership take a look at our Mindful Leadership course.
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