How to connect back to yourself
Today’s world landscape is a widely interconnected one. Such complexity and connectivity have distracted us as to what is important and impacted our ability to lead with excellence. But, what are the marks of an excellent leader?
In Finding the Space to Lead by Janice Marturano, published this year, an excellent leader is a leader who can connect to self, others and larger communities; and someone who can skillfully initiate or guide change.
These traits are deeply rooted in four fundamentals of leadership excellence, but compounded with the challenges we often face in this modern age:
- Focus. Amidst demanding schedules, how do we maintain focus and sustain attention?
- Clarity. In a fast-paced business environment, how can we see situations clearly and respond appropriately?
- Creativity. Our constant stream of thoughts and task-based activities have stifled our creativity.
- Compassion. With the “me” and “I” generation, are we less involved with the wellbeing of those around us?
According to Marturano, a mindful leader embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others.
Mindfulness training is a method of developing our mind’s natural capabilities to help us find the very thing we need most in our lives today: space, i.e. mental and emotional space.
When our minds are trained to be fully attentive, even in the midst of chaos, we have the space to make wiser and more conscious choices wherever we are placed.
There are three practical methods to mindful leadership mentioned in the book:
- Reflection on leadership excellence
When we allow ourselves time to reflect on the qualities of a person whom we believe embodies leadership excellence, our list will most likely be “respectful”, “kind”, “patient”, “inspirational” and “great listener”, instead of “consistently meets quarterly numbers”.This goes to show that what sets people apart as excellent leaders is something much more than quantitative metrics.
- Reflection on leadership principles
An important element within the practice of mindful leadership is coming to a deeper understanding of ourselves. With that, understanding our own leadership principles is a key part of that self-awareness.Knowing how these principles define us is a compass that will guide us when faced with difficult choices.
Similarly, the leadership principles identified by an organisation are guidelines for how the senior leadership will steer the company to success.
- Reflection of inspiration
People generally thrive on what inspires them, not merely what is expected of them. Mindful leadership training helps us discover the deeper inspirations that drive us, so that we too can inspire others with our passion.In the example of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s leadership, the then mayor of New York City (NYC) has always prioritised the need to show up in tough times to offer comfort. To him, being present when people were in pain was the true measure of a person.
As a result, his principle has inspired his administrative team to attend every funeral for an NYC employee who died in the line of duty following the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.
- Purposeful pauses
The ripple effect
Everyone has the capacity to lead with excellence. Just as we throw a pebble into a still pond to create ripples throughout the whole pond, so can leadership presence go beyond the effect it has on us alone. It can influence families, friends, the organisation we work within, the community we live in and potentially the world at large.
Essentially, we need mindful leaders who not only understand themselves but who are unafraid to be open-hearted and make ethical choices even in a crisis.
We just need to start finding that space through mindful leadership to be fully there (body, mind and soul!) at that present moment.
This is a practical book for those who constantly have their plates full, resulting in you finding it a challenge to do something that matters most in your life.
You may be an executive who is working hard to achieve work-life balance but have been unable to do so. Instead, you find yourself on the verge of a burnout.
Or, you may be a parent who is trying to do the best you can to nurture your children but find it hard to be kind to your own emotional and spiritual needs.
In the chaos of life, when you forget how to become human beings again because of our obsession with the “doings”, then I would highly recommend you to take a step back and read this book to connect to your inner self again.
Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership by Janice Marturano is distributed by Penguin Books Malaysia and is available in all leading bookstores. For feedback of this book review, drop Lay Hsuan an email at email@example.com . For more book reviews, click HERE!