A Mindful Leader embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others.
The very definition of a mindful leader ends with the phrase “in the service of others.” But in the many years since I began teaching that definition as part of mindful leadership training, I have seen how easy it can be to misinterpret that phrase. For example, it does not mean that every organization now becomes a public charity. Nor does it mean that there is necessarily anything wrong with running a financially healthy organization.
It does mean, however, that when we are asked to make a decision, we include in the evaluation process a recognition that each decision has a ripple effect and, therefore, each decision will touch, for better or worse, the organization, it’s employees, and the community. The best leadership choices are the ones that benefit all three categories.
In recent weeks, we saw firsthand examples of mindful leaders during the impeachment hearings. Regardless of your politics, you saw and heard from American patriots who had dedicated themselves to working in the interest of peace and the protection of our country. When they made decisions, their personal interests did not take precedent over the needs of the big picture. They were interested in more than short term gains. And they clearly saw the ripple effect of every action. They cared deeply for their organization, their colleagues and the community. This clarity and their commitment to something bigger than themselves was the motivation for them stepping forward, at great risk, to share what they saw as a betrayal of the common good in favor of self interest, and therefore the antithesis of great leadership.
Their example is an important reminder of your obligation as a leader. Each day, in big and small ways, you have an opportunity to be a mindful leader when presented with a choice. You begin by asking yourself two questions:
1. Is the decision I am making a “win-win-win?” In other words, will this choice have a result that is good for the organization, good for my colleagues, and good for the community?
2. Or, has short-term thinking or self-interest clouded my ability to lead with excellence?
The potential ripple effect of your choices as a leader should not be underestimated. For better or worse, your decisions will change the status quo.