Recently, a participant in one of my seminars excitedly exclaimed to one of his colleagues, “This stuff is great…we should have learned this ten years ago!”
He was referring to our discussion on some fundamental communication processes that underlie all human transactions occurring in the workplace, or for that matter, in all aspects of our lives.
In Part 1, I’ll focus on the first three as steps to enlightened leadership.
- Reflective Consciousness
- Responsive Listening
- Mindfulness Practice
If you’ve been to leadership seminars in the past, some of these topics may look familiar, but they’re rarely explored in the depth needed to engage the complexity of human behavior in today’s workplace.
Being conscious is more than just being awake and aware of yourself and your surroundings. It involves a deeper level of knowing and is one of the foundations of emotional intelligence. It’s the ability, or if you prefer, competency – to bear witness to your experience in the moment.
In my work with senior level leaders, the one skill that is often missing in their leadership “tool” box is reflective consciousness. – the ability to be tuned into their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors in the moment.
For many of these leaders their successes often comes at a high cost, usually in the form of chronic stress. While they are typically highly proficient in their area of expertise, they often are less comfortable and familiar with their own internal processes. Without a commitment to deepen self-knowledge, these leaders tend to rely on fixed behavioral strategies and often feel frustrated when confronted with resistance from others.
Because self-knowledge can never be “mastered,” enlightened leaders understand that the commitment to inner learning is continuous. They also realize that a crucial pathway in the learning process comes through engaged commitment to relationships.
Increasingly, self-awareness is being recognized as the key element necessary for effective leadership. A survey from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council rated self-awareness as the most important capability for leaders to develop. The authors of this study concluded that self-awareness is the inevitable starting point for managing one’s psychological preferences. Without it, executives will struggle to evolve or find coping strategies. Continue reading