When you describe the worst boss you ever had, what comes to mind? Usually, the person is described as a micro-manager, aggressive, critical, a loose canon, or un-caring. When you describe the best boss you ever had, well, it’s the opposite. Someone who gives you the autonomy to create, gives effective feedback, inspires, is calm under pressure, and genuinely cares about your well-being.
The key factors that make the difference: mindfulness and emotional intelligence.
Mindfulness means being in the present moment on purpose without judgment. That simply means you are in a state of ‘being’ versus ‘doing’. You have an awareness of what is going on in your mind and people and things around you at any given moment.
Emotional intelligence is simply your inter- and intra-personal skills – how well you relate to and influence yourself and others. Mindfulness is the foundation for improving emotional intelligence.
None of us wants to be that boss that demands rather than inspires. But the reality is that we get in highly volatile and stressful situations as organizational leaders, and we are not really given the tools to cope. Not to mention the inner conversations and self-doubt you have yourself.
How can an organizational leader possibly meet all of the necessary demands while remaining caring and inspirational?
In today’s global business world, with labour shortages, increasing regulatory requirements, fierce competition, and increasing business costs, there is one thing you have control over.
Your mind. The rest is uncontrollable. And stressing about it won’t help.
So what is the most important organizational leadership talent? Compassion.
Compassion is now known to be the happiest state! It allows you to authentically care about others. It gives you the vision to see a situation for what it really is. It allows you to give yourself the space you need when you need it. The best leaders have high levels of compassion – organizational or other.
The good news is that compassion can be learned. Mindfulness practices and meditation can grow your compassion to levels you may have never reached. It can improve your leadership, your relationships, and best of all… increase your happiness – even in the messy moments of your life and work. Excellence in leadership is a choice and takes work.
There are many ways to grow your compassion. You can try the following as a start:
- Find a guided loving-kindness or ‘metta’ meditation (purchase or free online) and meditate to it daily. Meditation physically changes your brain. A loving-kindness meditation sends love to those you love, yourself, those with whom you have a challenge, and the world. With practice, you will feel full of love when you finish, and you’ll have the bonus of a changed brain!
- Take note of your mind-body connection. Every emotion has a correlate physiological response. Learn what yours are. When you are compassionate, what do you feel? Where do you feel it? That is where you want to be in your leadership. When you feel negative emotions, e.g., defeat, anger, or frustration, what do you physically feel then? You will know you are shifting away from compassion when you feel these emotions.
- Each time you shift away from compassion, get grounded. You can do any of the following: Meditate. Take a walk. Sit in nature. Laugh. Perform any activity (run, wash dishes, file, brush teeth, sweep, etc.) with full attention – noticing with all of your senses every moment in that activity. Getting grounded will enable you to respond to a difficult situation more compassionately. If you are in a meeting, you can simply stop and breathe… or take a bathroom break and do a mindful walking meditation to the bathroom.
- Practice mindful listening. Mindful listening means giving the speaker the space to speak without you responding – at all! You listen to hear, not to respond.
- Ask how you can help. As leaders, we often feel like we need to have all the answers. We don’t. Be compassionate with yourself that you don’t know the answers. Be compassionate with others and ask what you can do to help.
When you are truly compassionate, your mission will be to serve others and see them succeed. As an organizational leader, your growth in compassion will see higher levels of humbleness and desire to positively impact the greater good. And THAT is what makes a truly inspirational leader.
“We found that for leaders to make something great, their ambition has to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves.” ~ Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
Tina Pomroy is the President of Pomroy Consulting and is a Harmony and Wellness Partner. She uses a holistic approach for helping leaders and managers create healthy and productive workplaces. She provides group and individual coaching, consulting, and training, with her key programs including Mindful Management, Business Buddha, and Create Your Culture. Tina is a Certified Human Resources Professional and has completed a Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration, and a Certificate of Mastermind Executive Coaching. Her mission is to create workplaces in which people are happy contributors and businesses that thrive. To learn more about Tina, you can find her on LinkedIn, or visit Pomroy Consulting on Facebook or Twitter.