Mindful Leaders

 

Leaders are often faced with decisions that can test their moral fortitude. The best leaders find ways to keep their moral compass intact, doing what is not only best for them but best for the company and the people who work for them. Stress can build up and cause bad decisions, causing even great leaders to lose focus on what is important and gauge their success solely on monetary gains. Overcoming this requires mindfulness.

There is more to being a good leader than simply creating revenue. Being mindful of how your actions affect others and yourself is pivotal. In his article Mindfulness Helps You Become A Better Leader, businessman and Harvard professor Bill George writes, “As you take on greater leadership responsibilities, the key is to stay grounded and authentic, face new challenges with humility, and balance professional success with more important but less easily quantified measures of personal success.” The higher up the ladder, the more difficult this can be. Thus, starting out with a foundation of best practices can be very helpful.

As a leader, George found meditation as a way to help him stay on the right track. Meditation relieves stress, lowers blood pressure and allows time to regain focus. George writes that keeping emotions in check can help reduce distractions and bad decisions. Being able to both “observe and participate in each moment, while recognizing the implications of your actions for the longer term,” can promote good decision making.

Being a mindful leader requires commitment and an understanding of the big picture. Building emotional intelligence with tools like meditation can help prevent rash decisions. Leaders are responsible for far more than themselves. Therefore, as a leader, it is important to keep not only self-interests in mind. Finding balance while keeping that “edge” that creates success is a line we all walk. Some fail, but mindful leaders find ways to succeed.

Resources
George, Bill. “Mindfulness Helps You Become a Better Leader.” Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.

Understanding Conflict Part 2: Resolution


Once a conflict is identified, then it is time to move towards resolution. This often requires a little bit of practice. Going in with a level head and a plan are the keys toward success. If emotional about the subject, we know it’s best to take a few minutes to allow ourselves to calm down. It is also important to go in with the intention of hearing both sides of the issue, and not necessarily to just getting our own thoughts out there. Most of the time, the other person has a good reason they feel the way they do, and it is important to both respect and trust that. Even if their reasons are built upon a misunderstanding, it is important to go in with an open mind to figure out what it is and how to resolve it.

It takes the use of several parts of our brain in order to clear the air. While conflict is often complex, lowering defenses and reaching resolution can be far more intricate. Below is a somewhat simplified roadmap using methods from Emergenetics.

  1. Start with social brain- Claim our feelings. Using an “I” message: “I am concerned about this situation.”
  2. Move to analytical brain- Provide a report of the situation. Focus on accuracy over emotion. Simply put, the aim here is consensus about the situation.
  3. Move to conceptual brain- Create solutions by brainstorming options. This step ensures everyone participates in finding a solution so no one feels left out.
  4. End with structural brain- After brainstorming solutions, we can then get organized by selecting the best one for the problem, determining the next steps and establishing a time frame.

This process fits hand-in-hand with Marshall Rosenberg’s four-part Nonviolent Communication Process. This process was designed to help guide us to express how we are and it works just as effectively to empathically receive how another is. Rosenberg recommends asking questions like the following:

  • What do I/you observe that does not contribute to our well-being?
  • How do I/you feel in relation to this observation?
  • What do I/you need or value that causes the feelings?
  • What are the concrete actions I/you would like taken?

Combining these two methods helps us get to the source of the conflict and start achieving resolution. Though it is not something that most people look forward to, conflict resolution is something that almost every manager in the world will have to deal with. Becoming good at identifying and resolving conflict will create a stronger, more effective work environment that will improve employee job satisfaction and productivity. It really is a skill we all must have.

Resources
Browning, Gail. Tap into the New Science of Success: Emergenetics. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Print
Dana, Daniel. Conflict Resolution. New York, NY: The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc. 2001. Print.
Rosenberg, Marshall. nonviolentcommunication.com. Puddle Dancer Press, 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2012.

5 Tips to Quit Complaining and Start Creating

 

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou

In his book “The No Complaining Rule,” Jon Gordon calls people who spend their time complaining, “energy vampires.” He says that this practice sucks the energy out of any situation. At the very least they suck all the positive energy out of a room and fill it with negativity. There are a few practices that can help you break a negative attitude and create a more positive, more productive outlook.

1.    The Jolly Journal- Instead of using your journal to vent, try using it to celebrate your day. Even the worst days have something positive happen. Take the time to break your day down. You can start by creating a list of things you learned during the day or list a couple of events that brought you joy or made you smile. You may find that the day wasn’t as bad as you originally thought.

2.    Choice Map– One of my favorite tools is Dr. Marilee Adam’s Choice Map. She recommends that you redirect yourself when you start feeling negative by asking learning questions like: What’s possible? What are the facts? What are my choices? Instead of negative questions like: Whose fault is it? This creates a much more constructive perspective on the situation, allowing for the development of solutions.

3.    Take a Hike– Not the metaphoric “hike,” but go for a literal hike or brisk walk depending on how much time you have. I’m not sure why but it is a wonderful tool that works like a charm for me.

4.    It’s Alllllllllll Right– In the words of famous photographer, Dewitt Jones, “celebrate what’s right with the world.” Take a step back and find something that is “right” in the situation. This helps to adjust your focus and may open new doors in the search for solutions.

5.    Let It Out– Give yourself five minutes to just let it out. Put it all on the table, everything that is bothering or annoying you. Be brutal with it, how unfair or bad it feels. Just let it all out. Then, after the five minutes is up, take a couple of deep breaths and just let it go.

Life is all about attitude and the attitude that comes with constantly complaining is anything but constructive. The most important thing is to clear the negativity as quickly as possible, complaining in and of itself rarely accomplishes this. Cultivating the ability to address problems with a reasonable and appropriate energy and then moving on has made both my business and personal life much more enjoyable.

Resources

  • The Quotations Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012.
  • Adams, Marilee. “Choice Map: We choose moment by moment.” Inquiry Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012.
  • Gordon, Jon. JonGordon.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012.