A guest blog by Helen White.
At last months’ Lucidity Network Book Club meeting we discussed, ‘The Mind of the Leader: How to lead yourself, your people, and your organisation for extraordinary results’ by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter.
I found ‘The Mind of the Leader’ book through The Harvard Business Review (HBR) – a great up-to-date source on the latest insights and advice on workplace skills and issues.
Leadership skills are valuable to everyone whatever kind of organisation you work in and whatever level you’re at. Understanding and practicing good leadership skills and attitudes helps us all contribute our best to our organisation. Learning about good leadership and working on my leadership skills has also really helped me personally to better manage a lot of challenges at work.
The Mind of the Leader particularly appealed to me because I’ve come to realise that leadership is a mindset. The right mindset is key to being a good leader, to yourself, your team and to your organisation.
The book is well written – good language, style and structure. It’s jargon light and very engaging. I particularly like the ‘Quick Tips and Reflections’ at the end of each chapter, and the useful practical support throughout the book.
For the Lucidity book group members, the key message from the book is that to be an effective leader you need to employ and balance 3 key things: Mindfulness, selflessness and compassion. But what does that really mean in practice? Here are some tips:
It’s important to be present in any conversation, meeting or situation. Silence your inner voice, block out distractions, genuinely listen and observe. Don’t just pretend you’re listening while your thinking about or doing something else, or thinking about what you want to say next.
Adopt a beginner’s mind. Look at every person and situation – including yourself – with fresh eyes. Ask open questions. See and hear what’s really there, instead of what you expect / want / fear / assume. It’s important to recognise when you’re making assumptions and that your assumptions are most likely wrong, and unhelpful at best.
Trust is key. As a leader you need to show trust in others, in order to be trusted.
Recognise and put aside your ego. Fear based, self-protection egoism can be just as damaging as arrogance based egoism – both are borne out of self-absorption.
Adopt courageous selflessness – focus on how you can best serve the organisation, not just yourself or your corner of the organisation. What’s really best for the organisation as a whole?
Understand the difference between empathy and compassion, employing the latter rather than the former. Adopt self-compassion as well as compassion for others.
Be accepting of failure – your own and others’. Move on quickly and positively from life’s mis-steps. Learn positive lessons. Don’t blame or punish.
Actively seek feedback to grow your self-awareness and understand the impacts of your behaviours.
Acknowledge and accept your emotions and those of others. We are all emotional beings with complex lives and emotion-driven internal narratives.
And finally, develop equanimity: Mental calmness, composure, evenness of temper. View life’s successes, failures, frustrations as ebbs and flows, without getting too high or low emotionally. Adopt a stoic mindset – accept what you cannot control. Focus on what you CAN control, which is yourself – how you choose to think, talk and behave.
Helen White is a policy and financial capability expert.
The Lucidity Network book club is one of the elements of the Lucidity Network.
The Lucidity Network is a community of generous people who help each other get the important work done. Facilitated via a Facebook Community with group coaching, mastermind groups and online training content which includes training materials on mindset, failure, and mindfulness. The Lucidity Network helps you to tackle the complexities of working life that didn’t come with the leadership handbook. The Lucidity Network is open a few times a year. To be the first to know when the Network is open for new members and get special early bird offers sign up to Lucidity Insights or join the free Lucidity Facebook Community.