When I speak with people about mindfull coaching, and how information from the fields of psychology (positive and systems), coaching theory and holistic principles are involved in our personal and professional lives, they nod their head but refer to their busy schedules, its “for when I have time.”
These same principles were demonstrated throughout Inc.’s list of top leadership qualities. They are at work, all day, every day. Paying attention to mindfulness at work is not a natural habit unless you train yourself to pay attention. And as the Inc. issue states, that can pay off.
The qualities listed below have a huge effect on the culture and one’s ability to adapt and change. I believe that while culture stems from the top down change can happen from the bottom up (i.e. information received and used from surveys of staff on what’s working or not, passive-aggressive behaviors versus employee buy-in, walk-outs in the most dramatic unsettled cases.)
Here are is my interpretation along with a brief synopsis of the traits of leadership reported by Inc.:
- Adaptive – the ability to ferret out changing circumstances and inspire those around you to change as well. Leadership examples are Ford’s Alan Mulally.
- Emotionally Intelligent – the ability to understand one’s own emotions and drives. This understanding enables us to be a better communicator. Daniel Goleman’s research and books make this material accessible. Leaders demonstrating this ability include Howard Schultz and Warren Buffett. (At aworkinglifecoach.com we work with the highly rated EI assessment.)
- Charismatic – reported to be linked to personality and thus hard to teach. Since people can learn skills, teaching this as another skill set brings hope that it can I be practiced and improved upon. If you want to read more, try ”The Charisma Myth” by Olivia Fox Cabane, where she teaches how anyone can master the art and science of personal magnetism.
- Authentic – Inc’s article asks us to observe a personality and ask, is this a shooting star (rockets to the top with no time to assess and deepen) or tried and true, polestars of constancy and discipline? I would add, to reflect on when traits from the rocket star and traits from the tried and true may be a virtue or a risk? An example of authentic leadership is James Goodnight of software giant SAS.
- Level 5 – this is a characteristic defined by Jim Collins, the guru investigative writer on what makes companies and leaders great. He reports these leaders share credit, own up to their responsibility in a situation and puts the organization first. He lists Darwin Smith, former CEO of Kimberly-Clark and Colman Mockler, former CEO of Gillette.
- Mindful – the article quotes from Ellen Langer, Ph.D. (Harvard professor) who wrote that the mindful quality is the ability to pay attention. In a professional setting, the individual can distill important information before less observant others, thus being able to act on it timely and effectively. It’s amazing how many corporations are using these techniques for stress relief; Google’s Chade-Meng Ten has developed an entire curriculum for Google on this subject, and the research coming out of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work is stellar (to name a few.)
- Narcissistic – Inc. magazine points us to leaders such as Bill Gates and Andy Grove who are able to thrive in turbulent times and attract followers to their compelling visions. The article references the book, Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails, by Michael Maccoby.
- No-Excuse – the upside is the ability to hold accountability and to make quick decisions. Leaders mentioned stemmed from the the military (article states that in a 2006 study companies led by ex-military CEO’s outperformed the S&P 500. I believe that it is both experience and training (increasing self-confidence) which enables us to learn to trust our intuition, thus increasing the ability to be decisive in times of need.
- Resonant – emotions are contagious, as reported by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee and written about in Time magazine and throughout the media. Positive infectious boss: Southwest Airlines president emeritus Colleen Barrett. Here is an experiement, next time you are going to enter a room filled with people, and even before you see their faces, can you guess their mood? Ever go to a dinner party and you can tell there is tension by just stepping in the door? How did you know? Contagious emotions?
- Servant – leaders who have a desire to serve, and use that as an impetus to serve better. Interesting that companies who most often make the list of “best companies to work for” are noted for having this type of leadership. Noted examples are Herb Kelleher from Southwest Airlines, and, Bill Gore from W.L. Gore & Associates. What a great reframe on a previously laden word. I think that the growing interest in communities such as yoga and the arise of the new entrepreneur really impact this powerful style.
- Storytelling – again, the ability to tell a story about yourself and your company is a dynamic skill and often seen in dynamic entrepreneurs. For more information, read: Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership by Howard Gardner. Leaders listed, the ubiquitous Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. Have you checked out, getstoried.com. Michael Margolis shares useful tips and techniques that can be easily adapted for the job hunter, entrepreneur builder, or any individual seeking to expand their personal skills.
- Strengths-Based – leaders identify and invest in their own – and their individual employees’ talents. Example of leaders using this style are Teach for America’s Wendy Kopp (execution) and former Ritz-Carlton CEO Simon Cooper. It took me a long time to come around to this approach, and now I have to admit, I truly value it. A lot of good research on strength-based values coming out of the positive psychology world. This is an opportunity for friends, family and valued colleagues to help each other out. We observe people using their strengths every day. Notice when you say to yourself, that person is a natural (singer, writer, can sell you the chair you’re sitting on, mathematician, receptionist, etc.) If you’re unsure take the strengths test or ask a person you respect to discuss this with you.
- Tribal – creating a culture where shared values are important. Examples include Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. I have noticed an increase of Tribal marketing in online marketers. Hmm. Something worth critically observing.
Whether you read a few magazine articles or check out some of the references in this article; looking into the different practices of mindfulness is a burgeoning field rife with opportunities to increase your creativity, inner knowledge, curiosity, and leadership skills.