24 April 2015

Responsability: key to mindful leadership

Mindful leadership of your team begins by taking responsibility: do you dare accompany your team into the green zone of mindful teamwork? And if you do, what does your role look like?

I would like to pause at the attitude of responsibility, the intention with which you set to work. As manager, do you allow circumstances to rule or do you take the lead? Do you choose unconditionally to ensure that your own resilience is up to the mark, so that your team can also build on you or do you neglect the balance in your life? Do you dare to adopt an encouraging attitude towards emotions, both your own or in the team? Or do you prefer to keep the lid on everything? Do you choose we-communication in your team or do you let everything go its own way? Do you choose compassionate performance or a hard judgmental culture?
Naturally, there are all sorts of circumstances you could suggest in your daily work over which you have no control. A colleague has fallen ill, a department elsewhere is performing poorly, suppliers who do not keep their agreements, matters in your personal life. But you always have a choice. A simple example. If you drop a pen and ask others why the pen fell, you can get two answers. One will say that it is because of gravity, the other that you dropped the pen. If you want to prevent the pen falling again, it doesn’t help to blame gravity. Then only your actions count. But often we think like this in organizations and that has become ingrained in the culture. It is precisely that choice that you have in every situation that means that you can call responsibility unconditional. No matter how difficult or awkward the situation may be, you have, as manager, the freedom to choose in all circumstances.

Implacable honesty and compassion thrive in a culture of we-communication: openness and trust, with clear language.  Making mistakes is permitted. Sharing information, both factual and emotional, is crucial in this, just as sharing fairly and accepting the responsibility for a mistake or near failure. A harsh judgmental culture does not help here. Also because it prevents skillfully dealing with necessary adjustments under pressure or change of tempo in work and a judgmental culture puts the brakes on learning processes.
You could perhaps best see your role as manager as that of a steward. Good stewardship with appreciation for the performances achieved, stated from your own experience, specifically directed at a person. And stewardship in naming awkward matters and not plastering them over. In your role as manager of a team, you can introduce stewardship in the green zone of mindfulness and thus promote compassionate performance.

More about this in my book: Mindful Leadership. Effective tools to help you focus and succeed (Amazon.com).