In my psychotherapy practice in Los Angeles, I see an overwhelming number of clients who are seeking to bring forth positive and wholesome actions and behaviors in this world. They desire to improve themselves, their relationships, and their businesses. They want to see a better world emerge from these troubling times.
One way I advise them to fulfill their wish is to set their intention to be a wise and mindful leader in all aspects of their lives. Those whose actions come from integrity create wonderful results everywhere they go.
A mindful leader leads from a position of mindful awareness, or what I call mindstrength. This manifests as knowing how to respond with understanding instead of reaction, and how to make everyone on their team feel recognized, affirmed and valued.
Mindfulness is a path that can provide us with this type of acute awareness. It promotes clarity and calm in a crisis, protecting us from the temptation to panic and jump from one bad situation to another. It keeps us from blaming others for the crisis, and leads us to take a meaningful look into our own role. Oftentimes, it gives us the power to change a negative outcome into a positive one.
A good leader has productive and respectful conversations. I call this wise speech. Often, I’ve counseled executives and other leaders who had no idea how intimidating or disrespectful they often were when speaking to their employees. In a panic, they tended to respond with aggressive speech. This approach shut down productive communication, reducing the leader’s ability to uncover the larger picture, make better decisions, and effectively influence the team. Good leaders carefully hone what they say, expressing themselves mindfully.
Mindful communication employs wise speech as an extraordinary tool for problem solving. It allows us to tolerate the discomfort of confrontation with others and the embarrassment of discovering how we might have contributed to the problem.
Additionally, mindfulness allows us to find our creativity and resourcefulness — the state of creative mind — so that we can approach situations differently and perhaps transform them. It helps us to easily tap into our core creativity to solve problems and achieve goals.
Effective leaders spend time daily meditating and using self-reflection to access creative mind.
We can use the following descriptions that delineate the differences between the wise, mindful leader and the un-wise, unmindful leader to see which characterize our approach and pinpoint in what ways we can make changes.
Qualities of a Wise, Mindful Leader
- Has the ability to do the right thing for the right reason
- Listens to a conversation and is able to extract a call to action from it
- Open to mastery
- Desires to grow and develop people like a gardener
- Is a visionary who is orientated towards the future
- Is inclusive, innovative, and inviting
- Is an imaginer able to tap into their creativity and inspire the same in others
- Respects, appreciates, confirms and encourages those around them
- Has the ability to say “Yes” to good ideas that aren’t their own
- Is receptive and open-minded
- Wants to make themselves, the company, other people and the world better
Qualities of an Un-Wise Leader
- Able to do things right, but often do the wrong things right
- Speaks instead of listens
- Operates out of fear, blame, manipulation and intimidation
- Treats people as subordinates instead of co-investigators
- Needs to be right and to make others wrong
- Generates a culture of fear and anxiety
As leaders hoping to become more wise and mindful, we must carve out time each day to meditate on how to actively become our own inner mindful leaders. As we take time to become quiet and listen to the inner silence, a deep and abiding wisdom evolves from this stillness. And, given the nature of discord, fear, and pain many are currently dealing with, we need to cultivate wisdom along with acceptance, grace and dignity to turn the tides of discord towards harmony and equanimity.
As we sit in mindful stillness, we will be able to rest knowing that when we change ourselves, we change our community, our nation and our planet. This is the work of the mindful leader. Are you ready to accept this task?
Written by Dr. Ronald Alexander.
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