A number of surveys on leadership have been conducted over the years and many skills and traits continue to present themselves in these surveys. While these skills are necessary considerations for leaders, there is a need to look within and create an inner stronghold, in order to support, deepen, and strengthen these skills.
Leadership from within, is about building this inner stronghold. It includes three key tenets of, alignment with one’s true purpose, centeredness by objectivity and conquering one’s fears, and, groundedness through acceptance, reliance and letting go.
Organizations like Aetna, Google, Telefonica Germany, Target, General Mills have embedded mindfulness programs to support their organizations and leaders. While, mindfulness helps with certain aspects of leadership from within, leaders must work on its three key tenets to continue enhancing their inner stronghold.
Aligned: Determine and activate one’s true purpose in Life.
A leader must be aware of his or her true purpose in life, and be able to articulate this purpose, and priorities to align with it. This helps with objective decision-making. While our goals and priorities may be long or short term, our true purpose is overarching and does not change with time.
If a leader’s true purpose is aligned with that of an organization’s, then it is a true win-win situation where the leader will be passionate about his or her work and motivate and inspire the team. A leader must always have an action plan to achieve this true purpose. To activate this plan, I recommend using visualization techniques.
For example, if your true purpose is, to empower youth with new technology, to bring education to the underprivileged, then visualize the technology being used by lower income families. Visualize that children are benefiting. Refrain from visualizing your fame or wealth from it. Focus on your true intention. The more one focuses on true intention, the more one is able to inspire and motivate others on it. Take the necessary steps articulated in your action plan.
If your true purpose is, to create a business model that will make healthcare more accessible to those in need, visualize your organization reaching out to rural markets or to international markets where healthcare is needed. Refrain from feeding your ego with visuals about the wealth it will produce for you. This does not mean you don’t add a financial goal to your plan. You absolutely do but I’m simply suggesting that you not indulge your ego in the process and stick to the intent. Then follow the actions that you need to take as per your plan. There are mindfulness tools and meditations available today, to help align with one’s true purpose.
Centered and Reflective: Inward resilience.
Many give in to anxieties and try to control every action and their corresponding outcome. When an outcome is not as per expectation, it leads to more anxiety and stress. And the cycle of trying to control, intensifies. Emotions run high and there are greater chances of failure because stressful emotions can blind-side us.
Our anxieties are caused by our inner fears and many of our fears are connected with our younger years. If one is able to remedy these fears, the anxiety will take care of itself.
Whether, you are someone who prefers to take on fears head-on, or someone who prefers to go through coaching, or you wish to use mindfulness and visualization techniques, the fact that you are reading this shows that you are interested in conquering your fears. That is the first step.
Understanding one’s underlying fears and conquering them makes a leader inwardly resilient and accordingly, sets the tone at the top. This helps being centered during challenging times and enables the leader to guide and support the team through them.
Grounded and Joyous: Joy in actions. Detach from outcomes.
This tenet may sound counter-intuitive today, where our performance is measured by outcomes and not actions. This statement suggests that one must measure outcomes from actions, but refrain from getting emotionally attached to them. Instead, focus all energy and take joy in the doing. Practice mindfulness and being in the present moment. This also requires objective management of emotions and a number of meditations and visualization techniques are available for it.
Emotional attachment with outcomes can lead to expectations from them and expectations hinder acceptance of challenging outcomes. Letting go is especially difficult when one is passionate about what he or she does. While the passion is important, detaching from the outcomes is possible if you take a problem solver’s attitude. Allow your emotions to pass and objectively look into what you can do differently to remedy the situation or event. Seek out the lessons the situation has taught you so you break any potential patterns of going through similar situations in future. There are mindfulness exercises and visualization techniques that can help one remain objective through challenging situations and times.
Acceptance of challenging situations and outcomes is possible with greater resilience and acceptance of the universal truth that everything happens for a reason. The reason may be a life lesson needed to be learnt, to propel you forward or it could be the need to upskill before you can move on to the next phase in your career.