Having just delivered an Authentic leadership and well being course, I have been thinking about true leadership potential, as it emphasises the ‘possibilities’ inherent in us all, and how we engage with this potentiality more fully as we all embrace becoming leaders in out own lives. This unfolds as we explore our own leadership journey and sense of true purpose. We get to this through understanding our own story but also the stories of those that have inspired us.
The old definition of leadership was that it belonged to a few and that it was a mysterious entity is now clearly outmoded. These ideas have transformed themselves; the path of leadership is open to all of us. Any discussion around leadership should be integrated with wellbeing. If we take Google’s example for a moment, Google believes great ideas can change the world; and this can be done by addressing our wellbeing. Google uses contemplative practice and have developed a programme called ‘Look inside yourself’- they allow their engineers to spend 20 percent of their time on developing mindfulness practices and learning about emotional intelligence/awareness. This was initiated by, Chade Meng-tan. He has met and worked with some of the most powerful and influential leaders in the world, like Obama. Stress can be a badge of honor for high achievers within many organisations like google. He wanted to help people align and optimize themselves with what they wanted in their lives using concepts and practices rooted in scientific data that were evidence driven.
There is a significant body of evidence suggesting that Mindfulness practices offer useful mental habits to retrain your brain, to bring about small changes to help your brain alter and adapt, so you can bring about effective differences in how you live. He found at Google people struggled not with ‘coding’ and but interacting with each other and as half of most of our work involves talking to others this has an impact. We have all written an emotionally charged email because we were triggered somehow, how might it be to pause and respond mindfully and compassionately. For example, some of the practices the participants learnt, were to pause, take a breath before typing an email, look again and think about how they other person they were sending it to would receive it: imagine their mental and emotional responses and alter the email accordingly.
Authenticity is a practice; it’s a collection of choices we have to make every day, it is a choice in living. It’s less about striving to be a good leader; it’s more about being an authentic one.