A Boomer’s Guide for Millennials: The ABC’s of Leadership – “M”is for Mindful

A common directive we often hear is – ‘to be mindful of’. This directive means to factor in and think about certain things to draw conclusions and make choices and decisions.
In my experience, those who are mindful usually reach better conclusions and make better choices and decisions, as well as develop better relationships. Another benefit to those who are mindful is that they are perceived as being fair (see ‘F is for FAIR in this series of articles).

In hiring someone for a leadership position, I assess how mindful the candidates are when determining how they make choices and decisions. Specifically, to what extent do they use factors necessary to make a quality choice and decision
Malcolm Gladwell describes this elevated consciousness in his must-read book, Blink – “There is in all our brains, a mighty backstage process, which works its will subconsciously. Through this process we have the capacity to shift huge amounts of information, blend data, isolate telling details and come to rapid conclusions, even in the first two seconds.”

Most of our decisions and choices require or should require more than two seconds. Of all of our intelligences, emotional intelligence is the most significant. The Yale School of Emotional Intelligence defines EI as “the ability to recognize, understand, utilize, and regulate emotions effectively in everyday life”. Being mindful when making choices and decisions is important. For a clear understanding of how this is applied, I am inspired by the eight factors outlined by Tony Stoltzfus in his book Coaching Question:

  1. Rational (the why and pro’s and con’s? Also what are the options?)
  2. Intuition (as Gladwell argues, ‘what does your two second conclusion tell you – and why?)
  3. Alignment (how consistent it is with your passion, values and beliefs?).
  4. Relationships (what are the emotional and practical impacts it has on others?).
  5. Council (what are the inputs and perspectives that you need from others?).
  6. Negative Driver’s (what and why it will be resisted or opposed?).
  7. Cost (what are the emotional and financial implications?).
  8. Risk/Reward (is it worth it?).

To this I would add:

  • Being mindful of what you know and what you don’t.
  • Being mindful that everyone is not open, honest and direct.
  • Being mindful that people may be telling you what they think you want to hear.
  • Being mindful of what you have that others do not.

The reason I have added these few points is that a critical aspect of mindfulness is being aware. I never cease to be amazed and appalled by how oblivious leaders are to the world around them. The #MeToo movement has not only exposed sexual harassment; but it has exposed leadership claiming they were not aware. In my book From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I challenge leadership by asking, “ Is your culture a ticking time bomb?” – asserting the need for them to be mindful of what is going on in their organizations.

It is impossible for people to lead without constantly determining how the people who they are responsible for feel, and why they feel the way they do. These perceptions are essential to being a mindful leader, yet so few leaders possess them.

The best example of a mindful leader is William DeWitt Hyde, President of Bowden College 1885 -1917. Consider all of the factors he was mindful of when he wrote, “The Offer of the College

“To be at home in all lands and all ages;
to count Nature a familiar acquaintance;
and Art an intimate friend;
to gain a standard of appreciation of others work and the criticism of your own;
to carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket;
and feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake;
to make hosts of friends… who are to be leaders in all walks of life;
to loose yourself in generous enthusiasms and cooperate with others for common ends;
this is the offer of the college for the best four years of your life.”

Contrast this to the musings, behaviours and actions of the leader of the free world.

To be a great leader – ‘Be mindful of’.

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