Mindful, Strategic Leadership

Elizabeth Carey
Posted: 11/04/2008

The other day I was at an organization’s office and was meeting with several people. As I met each employee, I simply asked, "How are you?" What was their response? "I’m crazy busy! I have back-to-back meetings with not a minute to spare!" Later I was talking with a friend and got a similar response: "I’m so busy with everything, and I don’t know when it will stop."

Slowing Down Busy Leaders

Since my coaching work is focused on organizational leaders, this pattern of being "crazy busy" has gotten me worried. I worry that in the midst of "crazy busy," important business decisions are made, strategic visions are created and people’s livelihoods are on the line.

Can we be "crazy busy leaders" and still show up as the best version of ourselves to make these critical strategic decisions on a daily, even hourly, basis?

Consider this: The average person has approximately 60,000 thoughts each day. This is an incredible amount of energy just expended on thinking! Now, how many of us actually have paid attention to even 10 percent of our thoughts in one day? Someone once said, "If you want to know what’s going on in your life...pay attention!" So, if we combine our "crazy busy" schedules with our "very busy" minds, what is left over for strategic leadership?

Mindful Strategic Leadership

Mindful strategic leadership is a deliberate approach to leading. It’s an awareness skill we decide to consciously employ so, as leaders, we can show up as the best version of ourselves. We pay attention to the craziness that is so easy to fall into and decide if we want to play along. We pay attention to the thoughts racing through our minds and slow them down. We pay attention to our reactions and impact on others and determine if that is really how we want people to experience us.

Mindful strategic leadership is a simple skill that requires nothing except regular practice. The key to cultivating this skill is not meditation on a mountain or yoga in an ashram. Being mindful is only about making the decision to pay attention each day. It’s simply a decision.

If you find yourself saying, "Well, why would I bother with that?" here are some ideas that may stop you in your busy-hectic-Blackberry-scheduling path. Leaders who pay attention or are mindful make better strategic decisions, have more time and energy and lead organizations into the future—not into a regularly-scheduled meeting. These leaders have a vision and have the mind available to make it a reality. Mindful leaders see the organizational obstacles or trouble spots before disaster happens and employ strategic solutions before the damage is done. Mindful leaders make more money and have more fun doing it! Now, that doesn’t sound too crazy, does it?

First published on Human Resources IQ.

Elizabeth Carey
Posted: 11/04/2008

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