Through the course of our careers, no matter our title or hierarchical standing in the organization we belong to, we all have plenty of chances to exercise leadership. And likely all of us have personally experienced the wild diversity between inspiring and inept leaders. The former creating a motivating, efficient landscape, while the latter spirals entire teams into complete dysfunction.
It all comes down to choice.Bad leaders make reactive, unconscious choices for which they seldom take responsibility. Good leaders make proactive, conscious choices for which they take full ownership.
As human beings, it is ultimately in our power to choose what we allow through our energetic gates. It is our responsibility as leaders to choose carefully what draws our attention, for where our attention goes our energy goes, and allocation of scarce resources along with it.
To develop as humans and as leaders, it becomes essential to examine our ever-shifting state of mind. Our perceptions, beliefs and emotions are the primary influence behind the kind of leadership we embody, the results we can bring to our organizations and our general happiness in life. So what is the most common mistake our untrained minds make when faced with opportunities to exercise leadership?
The most common trap we fall into is forgetting the fundamental importance of “subtleties.” Everything we do, think and feel, has an impact on our psychophysical system. For the most part we go through our days unaware of this very practical universal law, collecting layers of “stuff” that cloud our clarity of purpose. Without our even sensing it, other people’s projections and preconceptions enter our energetic system unchecked and steep with our own gut-level reactions. The result is a tar-like emotional sludge in our organism and it dictates how we interact with and relate to other people, from our teammates or followers, to our bosses, customers and family. We operate from this baseline unaware that it fogs our judgment and poisons our body.
The choices we make under these conditions are necessarily reactive and fundamentally biased for they are based on energies we carry unconsciously. The outcomes of those choices tend to generate a subtle but pervasive sense of dissatisfaction, regret and, sometimes, even anger. Moreover, since deep down we know that we don’t own the underlying conditions, we feel we don’t want to take ownership of the outcomes either. So we refuse to learn by the feedback we get. Actually, we usually reject it and keep blaming outer factors for our shortcomings, deluding ourselves in the process.
Judgments we make usually stem out of fear, insecurity or a sense of inadequacy. On the other side, when we can decipher the background causes for our judgment, we begin to choose consciously and proactively.
A lack of judgmental attitude doesn’t mean a lack of judgment. In fact, we can be highly discriminating with ideas, people and situations, engaging deeply or disengaging thoroughly without hostility. I call this “leading from a place of being.” Being implies a scrutinized state of mind. Being implies the formation of a clear, unbiased, broad view. Being implies compassionate action without attaching “strings” to choices, people and situations.
It is hard to overstate how paramount such a leadership approach is becoming. Leading from a place of being allows individuals and organizations to thrive in the hyper-competitive, skill- and tech-driven business environment we experience. Thriving in the business- and personal-sense is becoming more and more dependent upon the three Ps of sustainability Profit, People and Planet. (An example of such an authentic leadership brand is offered in this Wisdom 2.0 interview with Jeff Weiner, the CEO of Linkedin.)
When we exercise the power of choosing consciously and in a full state of unbiased presence, nobody can take anything away from us. We control our vital self-esteem and self-worth. In fact, even when we make mistakes, we own them so they cannot cause frustration or anger. We become accountable and learn from our mistakes. We become open with our teams about them. That openness creates learning opportunities within our organizations, and instills trust in our leadership.
Trust, teamwork and accountability are the three main operational outputs of a genuine, fully present, purpose-driven leadership. State of mind qualities associated with this emerging type of leadership are:
- No-bullshit view combined with compassion
- Unbiased presence
- Courage and Discrimination
- Trust and Sharp Alertness
- Preparation and Practice
- Strength and Openness
Leading from a place of being is a journey that goes through personal mastery.
Ask yourself if you want to live authentically, genuinely and with awareness from your core—from that centered space within yourself, where you can exercise your powers with clarity and scope, compassion and love, strength and trust. If the answer is yes, it is probably about time for you to take the first step toward ridding yourself of those layers of emotional sludge secretly running your life.
A daily meditation practice is the fundamental first step (see: Want to be more productive and inspire others?).
In my next posts I will write about other practical Wisdom based techniques and practices of paramount importance to train for “leading from a place of being”.