As a busy executive, you might think you don’t even have the hour it takes toSmile. Breathe. Listen: The 3 Mindful Acts for Leaders. Here are some highlights that might just encourage you to read the entire book or at least recommend it to your team.
We are hard-wired to smile. We’re even smiling in the womb. Kids smile like crazy, and mirror neurons allow us to “catch” smiling from others.
Smiling is good for your long-term health and for a longer and more engaged life.
Smiling reduces stress, helps us work better, and makes people want to be around us.
The “Duchenne” smile—a smile that engages the muscles of the eyes as well as those of the mouth―is viewed as genuine and authentic.
Smiling makes us appear more likable, courteous, and competent.
Leaders who smile put people at ease, spread positive emotions like a virus, and create an environment in which people can do their best work.
Breathing is automatic. However, leaders who understand how to control their breathing will be much more effective.
Mindful Breathing is the “Big Switch” that helps us move from mental rumination or anxious thinking to more a more thoughtful, relaxed state.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a research-based, highly successful program based on mindful breathing and consistent, regular practice.
Regularly sitting or lying quietly starts the “practice” of mindfulness.
The impact of mindful breathing can be seen in our personal, team, and corporate health.
Leaders who learn mindful breathing not only help themselves become better people but also help those around them to do the same.
Listening is a skill possessed by the very best leaders.
Listening represents an important gift that every leader can give―a leader’s time and attention are highly valued by those around the leader.
Good listening consists of presence, technique, and practice.
Presence is demonstrated when leaders are fully engaged, focused, and not distracted when talking to people.
The Speaker-Listener Technique focuses on the listener fully understanding the speaker’s concerns.
The Ladder of Inference demonstrates how anyone, including leaders, can jump to conclusions based on their own often erroneous assumptions and beliefs.
Despite a prodigious amount of data and statistics about how important listening is, a number of leaders—in business, medicine, and any other profession—have poor listening skills.
Unfortunately, the prognosis for whether people will become more focused, better listeners is not good, because of technology intrusions (emails, texts, phone calls vying for our immediate attention.
If I were a CEO, I’d ask all my executives to read this book and then discuss one commitment at every staff mFeeting. Then, I would ask them to hold each other accountable for all of them. Consequently, I believe my “company” would likely prosper! A book about the impact of commitments to leadership, this book has a lot of face validity. It makes sense even in areas where there’s less than an abundance of supporting research. Given the authors’ self-reported experience, they appear to have consulting chops in the real world. I’ll admit that the 15 commitments got a bit tedious; however, they all made sense based on my own experience. Moreover, I could not figure out why there were 15, not 10 or for that matter 25, but I’m not sure which ones I’d eliminate. Again, I’d recommend that serious leaders who want to impact a culture read this one.
Above or Below the Line: This is a critical concept in this book about conscious leadership—being self-aware. Above-the-line leaders commit to learning, curiosity and openness. Below-the-line leaders are committed to being right, are judgmental and often remain closed. In fact, we’re all above and below the line every day. The trick is to know where you are when making decisions that matter. In fact, being below the line is a normal state based on the brain’s amygdala, which constantly looks for threats as a way of protecting us. Unfortunately, we can’t always tell the difference real and imagined threats. Fortunately we can learn to shift from below to above the line.
Content, Context and 4 Ways of Leading. Content is what we’re talking about and context is how we’re talking about it. Most of us focus on content, but context is about being above or below the line when thinking about it. So, I may not be open to an honest discussion about a project if I’m below the line. Unconscious leaders operate from below the line and use stories or ego to color their thinking—this is the place that blame and fault permeate the atmosphere. Four states of leaders: 1) To Me (victim state—stuff happens to me, and I’m a victim who blames others for my fate); 2) By Me (more above the line, we can learn, control and affect what happens to us. Taking responsibility for where we are; 3) Through Me leaders see themselves at the center of things in their lives and seek higher purpose—these leaders channel change through themselves. Letting go of control is the gateway to this level; 4. As me leadership is more about being one with the world. A more philosophical state. Most of us do well shifting from “to me” to the “by me” state.
Commitments #1-#5: #1. Taking Radical Responsibility—taking full responsibility for our circumstances (above the line), NOT focusing on blame, shame and fear that tend to drive the victim, villain-hero triangle (below the line); #2. Learning through curiosity—open, curious, learning (above the line) v. defensive, closed, focused on being right (below the line); #3. Feeling all feelings—whether the emotions of fear, anger, or joy. Conscious leaders need to name and release their feelings; #4. Speaking Candidly—candor is at the center of strong relationships and teams. Conscious listening is at the center of a candid relationship; #5. Eliminating Gossip—Usually a negative comment in an attempt to control and influence others with information, gossip is the sign of an unhealthy organization.
Commitments #6-#10: #6. Practicing Integrity—is about being whole, consistent, and aligned with your words and actions. Four pillars: responsibility, candor, commitment, and keeping agreements; #7. Generating Appreciation. Great leaders express sincere, specific and succinct appreciation and avoid feelings of entitlement; #8. Excelling in Your Zone of Excellence. Conscious leaders help others recognize their individual genius and help them use it daily; #9. Living a Life of Play and Rest. To counterbalance the grind of work, good leaders promote playfulness in organizations, resulting in high-functioning teams; #10. Exploring the Opposite. Good leaders remain open to the idea that the opposite of their story may well be true.
Commitments #11-15: #11. Sourcing Approval, Control and Security. People want security and approval, and if they don’t get it often resort to control. Conscious leaders see control within, not outside themselves; #12. Having Enough of Everything. Good leaders work from a sense of abundance (have what they need in this moment), not scarcity (there’s never enough stuff to go around); #13. Experiencing the World as an Ally. Conscious leaders see people as assets, not problems; #14. Creating Win-Win for all Solutions. Conscious leaders play a win-win game, not a win-lose game; #15. Being the Resolution. Conscious leaders see problems as opportunities for the team to solve. Such leaders don’t feel they have to ride in on a white horse to act like a hero. They start from YES.
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A new paradigm for sustainable success (2014, Booknook.biz) by Diana Chapman, Jim Dethmer, & Kaley Warner Kemp, reviewed by Steve Gladis, March 2016.