Leadership is required by us all, no matter what we are doing or what our roles are. Authentic leadership is not about control or bossing people around, but about empowerment. It leads people to outcomes that fulfil authentic needs and align with authentic values. At its heart, authentic leadership calls for self-development in which we lead or empower ourselves so that we embody and honour our authentic selves, and support the same process in others. Organisations prosper when they foster this process. As they do so, they will naturally adopt mindful, sustainable practices to benefit their social and ecological environments—their wider stakeholders. This is because they see the honouring of the social and ecological systems in which they are embedded and sustained as necessary for true success. Central to the skill of successful and authentic leadership is the understanding and practice of mindfulness.
Successful Leadership Requires Mindfulness
Successful leaders need to consistently direct their attention onto the development and implementation of strategies for success—strategies that honour authentic needs and values and the vision guiding our behaviour. Mindfulness is the practice of consciously directing our attention in the present moment, without reactivity or distraction. Mindfulness enables us to stay focused on what really matters and to overcome the limiting states of mind that sabotage the success of turning our vision into reality.
For example, fear will often be a natural part of any change or risk that we are required to make as a leader and a human being to be authentic and successful in our self-development and service to others. Mindfulness enables us to acknowledge the fear and move beyond it without reacting to it and allowing it to take us into unresourceful states.
Mindfulness is necessary to avoid being caught up in the reactive contents of the mind that can limit and disable us. Mindfulness frees up our energy that is so often wasted in reactivity, and by doing so helps to maximise our effectiveness as a leader, strategist, and human being. In our relationships and organisations, mindfulness steers us clear of the reactivity that can sabotage relationships and cause division and a lack of cohesion and mutual support between people. For example, mindfulness keeps us in our centre when ego-based anger, resentment, or criticism would otherwise fragment our relationships and lower morale, and allows us to navigate towards supportive, win-win solutions in which mutual needs are explored and honoured for the good of the whole.
As a leader of a group or organisation, mindfulness not only keeps us focused on the vision of success guiding our group or organisation, but also keeps us present to the people we are with so that we can give them our time, guidance, inspiration, feedback, and support. Mindfulness allows us to stay present to the needs of our group or organisation, and the needs of the individuals that comprise it. It makes us accountable. Without mindfulness, we can become naive and indifferent to the people who play their part in the success we seek, and in so doing lose resourcefulness and effectiveness, overlook people’s gifts and talents, and potentially allow resistance to form in those we need most. With mindfulness we are able to appreciate the people around us by becoming aware of their value and the blessings they bring us and others that we may previously have been unconscious of. This enables groups and organisations to develop high states of cohesion and participatory leadership.
Of particular importance to effective leadership, whether of ourselves or of groups or organisations, is mindful communication. Mindfulness, by keeping us in the present moment and focusing our attention, helps us to communicate clearly and without reactivity. Words, if not used well, can confuse, demotivate, or hurt. We have to be very careful when speaking not to allow our reactive ego to sabotage the potential of the moment we have with others to build inspiration, rapport, and understanding. Mindfulness in communication helps us to actively listen, with emotional awareness, and understand the needs, views, and information that others have that we need to know about. If we are only thinking about ourselves or what we want to hear, and living in our ivory tower, our success as a leader will be diminished or lost.
Mindfulness, by keeping us focused, consistent, and present as a leader, helps us to honour our intentions and the people around us. Along with the authenticity, integrity, and effective communication that mindfulness can bring, this builds trust in the best way. Successful leadership cannot happen without trust.
Successful Leadership Requires Self-Development
Whether you are a leader of a group or an organisation, or just leading yourself into success, self-development is crucial for growing in potential, becoming more resourceful, developing new skills, taking the initiative, and overcoming limitations. In doing so you can enlarge your vision, overcome the challenges you face, and grow stronger in experience, understanding, and effectiveness.
Most of all, self-development allows us as a leader to become aware of our true selves. This means that we can become aware of our true needs and the impulses that support us or oppose us. To be a successful leader we need a strategy of resourcefulness to make most use of the impulses that support us, and heal the inner conflict or inner disconnection that causes our impulses to oppose us.
When we become aware of our true selves and align our behaviour with this awareness, we can grow in integrity and authenticity, and create goals for turning our lives around and fulfilling our true life purpose. Ultimately, by becoming aware that capacities for love, compassion, and unity exist within our true selves—that may have been hidden, denied, or neglected by our reactive mind—we can start to use these capacities to serve ourselves and others in the most productive, inspiring, and healing way, and begin a journey of authentic living.
The practice of mindfulness is important for self-development because it brings us back to our centre as observer, where we can grow in awareness, direct our focus and energy, and make the changes that we need to make to follow our vision and remain authentic, without being sabotaged by our reactivity.
Leadership is required by us all to be true to ourselves, and to be an inspiration and support to others in our authenticity, self-empowerment, and service. Without leadership to sponsor our self-development, we become a slave to reactivity and to the personal and cultural patterns that hold us back from our full potential and from making a positive difference to the world. Authentic leadership is needed more than ever in today’s world to create new, sustainable ways of living, and to overcome the challenges around us. Times are a-changin’, and we can’t afford to stand still or ignore what is happening around us. Regardless of our role or our title, or the circumstances we find ourselves in, mindfulness is a skill that we can all harness to support our authentic leadership, self-development, and success, and to inspire the same in others.
If you would like further support developing authentic leadership and progressing in your self-development to turn your life around, consider booking an Inner Wellness Strategy Session with me. You can also invite me to speak on this topic and help inspire a new culture of leadership.
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