Everyone is a leader. And everyone has the capacity to lead with excellence. After all, leadership is not about titles or management roles. Leadership, at its core, is about influence. And every one of us, for better or worse, has an influence every day. Each choice we make has an influence on our own life, as well as our families, friends, colleagues, workplaces, communities and the environment…for better or worse. The work of mindful leadership training is to begin to see how we can train our mind to be present, and open ourselves to our own wisdom, so that we can more often influence “for better,” and less often influence “for worse.”
If you take a few moments to think about this, you might be able to recall the actions or words of someone who has had a strong positive influence on you, someone who inspired you. Perhaps they fit the conventional definition of a leader, but it is just as likely that they did not have any official leadership title. Those who “influence for better” are leaders because they make a difference, and, more importantly, because they inspire those around them to make a difference.
Likewise, those who “influence for worse” may or may not have a leadership title. The influence of the choices they make can range from benign neglect to intentional harm, and everything in between. Those affected can become disillusioned, apathetic, disengaged or just plain exhausted.
See for yourself: A reflection on excellence in leadership
Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit and close your eyes. Take a few breaths and settle into the chair. Now call to mind the image of a person who has had a strong, positive influence on you. Someone who really touched your life. They might be at work, at school, in the community or in your family…someone who influenced “for better.”
Take your time, make the image as detailed as you can as if you could bring that person into the room. When you are ready, ask yourself “Why this person?” What was it, or is it about this person that you experienced?
Try not to analyze this question, just see what words or phrases arise. What did you notice, feel, see about this person’s way of being that touched you, that inspired you? Sit with this reflection for a while. When you are ready, write down the words that arose. These are the attributes of excellence. These are the words that describe leading “for better.”