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Mindful : February 2014
54 mindful February 2014 leadership Leading people is one of the most challenging roles we can take on in life. It requires a dizzying array of skills, a strong education, and passion. Most often, when we take on a leadership role, we do so because we wa nt to ma ke a difference. As leaders, we take for g ranted that we will work long hours, make great sacrifices, and ride the roller coaster of success and failure. However, the busy ness that accompa nies being a leader in today ’s 24/7/365 interconnected world often distracts us from what’s importa nt a nd limits our ability to lead with excel- lence. When we a re really honest with ourselves, we may have to admit that there are far too many times when we feel as though we’re spending the day putting out fires and wasting time rather than doing our best work. Does it need to be this way? Happily, the answer is no. You can learn to lead with excellence by culti- vating your innate capabilities to focus on what is importa nt, to see more clearly what is presenting itself, to foster greater creativity, and to embody compassion. When you are able to do so, you are much more likely to make the conscious choices we need our leaders to ma ke. These choices often lead to a win-win-win scena rio: good for the organi- zation, good for the employees, a nd good for the community. Why Do We Need Mindful Leadership? To answer that question, let’s begin with a look at what it means to be mindful. When you are mindful of this moment, you are present for your life a nd your experience just as it is... not as you hoped it would be not as you expected it to be not seeing more or less tha n what is here not with judgments that ca n lead you to a condi- tioned reaction ...but for exactly what is here, as it unfolds, meet- ing each moment with equanimity. As we consider the challenges leaders face today, it’s relatively easy to see how much we need to cultivate mindful leadership. The environment we live and work in is constantly evolving. Time is now often measured in internet microseconds. There are new a nd complex economic a nd resource con- straints on our orga nizations. We are attached 24/7 to an array of technological devices that reg ularly generate a nxiety-producing information overload and a sense of disconnection that can over whelm and isolate us. The world is changing so rapidly that people training for a career today may find their career path radically altered by the time they are ready to enter it. One paradigm after another is shifting. The volume of information at our disposal is, in fact, leading to less rather than more certainty. The number of voices and opinions we can hear on any given issue is so dauntingly large that we often don’t know who or what to believe or follow. It is also true, though, that these tumultu- ous times can offer great opportunity and ample possibilities for innovation, as the world becomes smaller and we begin to see the potential to meet the complexities of the day in ways that are truly creative, productive, and compassionate. It’s a time to take leadership, and to redefine what it means to lead with excellence. In my own experiences, first as a Wall Street associate, a community volunteer, an employee in three large organizations, and an officer of a Fortune 200 company for fifteen years, and then in the work I have done in offering mindful leadership training to leaders from around the world, I’ve consistently found that the best leaders’ qualities go far beyond “getting the job done.” The best leaders are women and men who have first-class training, bright minds, warm hearts, a passionate embrace of their mission, a strong connection to their colleagues and com- munities, and the courage to be open to what is here. They’re driven to excellence, innovation, and making a difference. → You can learn to lead with excellence by cultivating your innate capabilities to focus on what is important. Janice Marturano is the founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership and a certified mindfulness teacher.