by Dr. Ron Alexander
With the turmoil and un-rest since the presidential election it is time to consider if the new president-elect has the wise and mindful leadership qualities to bring our nation together. At the same time we should reflect if we too emulate these same qualities in our personal and professional lives.
As a psychotherapist in Los Angeles I see an overwhelming number of patients who are seeking to bring forth positive and wholesome actions and behaviors in this world. They desire to improve themselves, their relationships, and their businesses. They want to see a better world emerge from these troubling times. One way to achieve this is to set your intention to be a wise and mindful leader in all aspects of your life. Those whose actions come from integrity cause wonderful effects everywhere they go.
A mindful leader leads from a position of mindful awareness, or what I call mindstrength, by knowing how to respond with awareness instead of reaction and how to make everyone on their team feel recognized, affirmed and valued. Mindfulness provides you with clarity and calm in a crisis, protecting you from the temptation to panic and jump from one bad situation to another, or blame others for the crisis and avoid looking at your role in it; plus it gives you the power to change it.
A good leader has productive and respectful conversations. I call this wise speech. Often, I’ve counseled executives and other leaders who had no idea just how intimidating or disrespectful they were when speaking to employees. In a panic, they tended to respond with aggressive speech meant to frighten those around them into changing their behavior in order to placate the boss. This approach shuts down productive communication, reducing the leader’s ability to see the larger picture, make better decisions, and effectively influence his or her team. Good leaders carefully hone what they say, mindfully expressing themselves.
Mindful communication is also an extraordinary tool for problem solving. It allows you to tolerate the discomfort of confrontation with others and the embarrassment of discovering how you might have contributed to the problem. Mindfulness allows you to find your creativity and resourcefulness, so that you can approach the situation differently and perhaps transform it. It helps you to easily tap into your core creativity to solve problems and achieve goals.
So what are the differences between a wise and un-wise leader? Here are some points from the training I teach on The Art of Leadership, given by The OpenMind Training® Institute in Santa Monica, CA.
Qualities of a Wise Leader
They have the ability to do the right thing for the right reason. They listen to a conversation and are able to extract a call to action from it. They are open to mastery. They desire to grow and develop people like a gardener. They are visionaries who are orientated towards the future. They are inclusive, innovative, and inviting. They are imaginers who are able to tap into their creativity and inspire the same in others. They respect, appreciate, confirm, and encourage those around them. They have the ability to say, “Yes” to good ideas that aren’t their own. They are receptive and open minded. They want to make themselves, the company, another person, and the world a better place.
Qualities of an Un-Wise Leader
They can do things right but often do the wrong things right. They speak instead of listen. They operate out of fear, blame, manipulation, and intimidation. They over manage people with control, which leads to blockage through repetition of the same failure in conversations of action. They treat people as subjects vs. co-investigators. They need to be right and to make others wrong. They generate a culture of fear and anxiety.
It doesn’t matter any longer who voted for whom and which candidate won and lost. What’s essential is that we all come together and accept the here and now. The next leader of our nation is President-Elect Donald J. Trump. We can choose to support and see him as moving towards mindful leadership or we can choose to remain in denial, bargaining, and anger, which are part of the stages of grief and loss. Holding our leaders in the light and grace of possibility and potential is to become mindful of our own inner light and empowerment as self leaders.
If we were living in the time of the Buddha or Ghandi I believe they would suggest given the nature of discord, fear, and pain many are currently dealing with to take time out each and every day and to mindfully meditate on how we can actively be our own inner mindful leader. As we take time each day to become quiet and listen to the inner silence from this stillness evolves a deep and abiding wisdom. And yes, wisdom along with acceptance, grace and dignity are what we need to turn the tides of discord towards harmony and equanimity. Then and only then will we be able to rest knowing as we sit in mindful stillness when we change ourselves, we change our nation and then the planet. This is the work of the mindful leader. Are you ready to accept this task?
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Read Dr. Alexander's original article on www.ronaldalexander.com
Ronald A. Alexander, PhD is a licensed psychotherapist, leadership consultant, clinical trainer, & the author of the widely acclaimed book, Wise Mind, Open Mind. He is the Executive Director of the OpenMind Training® Institute in Santa Monica, a leading edge organization that offers personal and professional training programs in mindfulness based mind-body therapies, transformational leadership, and meditation. His unique method combines ancient wisdom teachings with positive psychology and creative thinking into a comprehensive integrated, behaviorally effective mind-body program. This system combines techniques that support strategies of personal, clinical, and corporate excellence and growth.