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Mindful : February 2014
February 2014 mindful 55 When you listened for your responses to the reflection questions, you might have noticed that they did not include too many of the typical measures of organizational leadership. For example, you probably did not put consistently makes his quar terly numbers as the reason you admire the person as someone who leads with excellence. Rather, your list might have included some of the qualities named by other leaders who have explored this reflection with me: Respectful Open thinker Compassionate Clear vision Able to inspire Great listener Creative Patient Collaborative Kind Teacher It’s not that hitting the quar terly numbers isn’t impor tant; it is. What sets people apart as leaders, however, is something much bigger than quantitative metrics. The people we call to mind in this reflection have touched us, inspired us, and made us feel their leadership. The qualities can be rolled up into just two capacities of leadership excellence, and these two capacities are embodied by those we identify as leading with excellence. Ability of a leader to connect—to self, to others, and to the larger community. Connecting to self is how we stay connected to our values and our ethics. It’s the rudder we steer with in the midst of the chaos. How deeply we are able to connect authentically with others is the difference between an organizational environment that values inclusion and one that is insular and divided into silos that rarely communicate with each other. Connecting to the community comes from being able to see the bigger picture and not get caught up in the minutiae of a single objective. That wider connection is how great organizations give meaning to their existence and inspire their employees. 1 2 Ability of a leader to skillfully initiate or guide change. The important word is skillfully—leading not by command and control but by collaborating and listening with open curiosity and a willingness, at times, to live within ambiguity until a decision becomes clear. It’s also this capacity that fuels a leader’s willingness to take a courageous stand, lead the organization or industry into new arenas, and accept failures as experiments from which to learn. From Finding the Space to Lead PRACTICE Begin by sitting comfortably and closing your eyes. Notice the sensations of your breath. Allow your mind to let go of distractions. When you’re ready, bring to mind a person you believe embodies leadership excellence. This could be someone you know personally or a leader you have read about. Allowing yourself some time to let the answers arise, ask yourself the following questions: Why did this person come to mind? What is it about this person’s leadership that made you think of him or her when asked about leadership excellence? Be patient; hold the question in your mind with a sense of openness and curiosity. You don’t need to overthink the question. Set aside the first answer or two to see if more qualities emerge. As you open your eyes, you may find it helpful to write your answers on a piece of paper before reading further. Reflecting on Excellence Taking note of the qualities exhibited by leaders we admire can help all of us pinpoint how to become better leaders ourselves.