Mindfulness & leadership - Leadership Essay Example
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THE KEY TO ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESS … WILL BE HAVE THE RIGHT PERSON SOLVING THE MOST IMPORTANT BUSINESS PROBLEMS, NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE LOCATED IN THE COMPANY HIERARCHICALLY, ORGANIZATIONALLY, OR GEOGRAPHICALLY.
– JAMES CITRINA AND THOMS NEFF
AS ORGANIZATIONS ENTER THE BOLD NEW WORLD OF THE 21ST CENTURY THEY ARE FACED WITH MULTIPLE CHALLENGES. FOREMOST AMONG THESE CHALLENGES IS THE NEED TO BETTER MANAGE KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION. THE TRUE ASSETS OF ORGANIZATION WILL NO LONGER BE BRICKS AND MORTAR, BUT THE KNOWLEDGE INVESTED IN THEIR HUMAN CAPITAL. ONE OF THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE AND ADVANCEMENT ENTERS ON THE MEANINGFUL MOBILIZATION OF HUMAN EFFORT AND INNOVATIVE BEHAVIOR THROUGH CONTEMPORARY ORGANIST IONS. MAN OF THESE NEW FORMS OF ORGANIZING CRY OUT FOR INNOVATIVE WAYS OF LEADING AND ORGANIZING PEOPLE AT WORK. MINDFULNESS BASED LEADERSHIP FILLED A CRITICAL VOID IN UNDERSTANDING HOW LEADERSHIP COULD HELP MEET THE CHALLENGE OF SUCCESSFULLY PUTTING EMPOWERMENT INTO PRACTICE IN ORGANIZATIONS.
MINDFULNESS AND LEADERSHIP
Leadership is the quality of an individual’s behavior whereby he is able to guide the people or their activities towards certain goals
– James Citrina and Thoms Neff
Leadership is the ability to get work done with and through others, while at the same time winning their confidence, respect, loyalty and willing co-operation. The first part of this definition is the same as for management. It is the second half, which highlights the difference between a leader and a non-leader. Managers who possess the quality of guiding and directing the subordinates in an organization to perform their jobs efficiently can be called business leaders. A leader interprets the objectives of the group and guides it towards the achievement of these objectives.
Leadership means different things to different people, and sometimes the most effective leaders can appear not to be leading at all. Good leadership is essential in all aspects of managerial functions whether, it be motivation, communication or direction. Good leadership ensures success in the organization, and unsatisfactory human performance in any organization can be primarily attributed to poor leadership. Total performance is the result of a host of factors and not of leadership alone, hence can be evaluated in the light of these factors.
Mindfulness based leadership- a philosophy and a systematic set of actions and mental strategies for leading ourselves to higher performance and effectiveness
Mindfulness in leadership also includes assessing a situation, understanding problem areas, knowing appropriate strategies, and consciously implementing them for attaining organizational objectives. Mindfulness Leadership provides experienced leaders and managers with the opportunity to transform their leadership work and make it more effective.
2. Qualities of Mindfulness based Leadership
Mindfulness based Leadership means leading with presence, connection and power
A Mindfulness l leader influences others by his qualities, viz. confidence, communicative ability, awareness of his impact on others as well as perceptions about the situation and his subordinates (Prasad, 2006,p.287). The effect of a leader’s background experiences, his communication ability, self-awareness, confidence, his perceptions of subordinates, the situation and the self are shown in the fig. All these factors interact together to determine the leader’s ability to influence others
Fig.1 Qualities of Leader
[Source: Taken from, Prasad LM, (2006) Organizational Behavior, Fig 26.1 p 287]
Mindfulness based leadership means interacting together all these factors with the joy of working with people and teams towards new goals.
3. Need for Mindful Leadership for Leaders and Their Organizations
The most important change is the emphasis on how the age of information has changed leadership and made mind leadership an essential skill for everyone.
In today’s, complex, knowledge based working environment it is increasingly difficult to measure the subordinates, output. Control becomes impossible and has to be replaced by trust and transforming leadership. As the world grows more complex, the individual is not able to understand it alone. Many leaders encountering new pressure working across corporate and business organizations often feel overwhelmed or compromised, powerless to make effective changes that they know will make the important difference to their teams in their organizations. Mindful Leadership supports people to be their best in their role without losing sight of values, purpose and well-being of their team (Mindfulness Based Leadership Training). Reliance has to be placed on the specialist knowledge of the team requiring creation of the right climate for that knowledge to be applied. The group must be developed to maximize learning and the increase of the knowledge base. Such a climate will also encourage synergy and the sparking of creative interactions (Ahuja K, 2005, 552). Mindfulness Leadership creates a sense of vision to inspire the group and place on the team members the responsibility for making decisions and solving their own relationship problems. Mindfulness can enable leaders and their teams to work-in meaningful, effective, transformative ways and not burnt out from tasks of dubious value.
A major challenge most leaders face is how to prevent being taken over by the demands of their work and driven by the wrong priorities. Mindful Leadership meets these challenges by exploring practices which enable us to reduce our self-centered reactivity, enhance our capacity to connect with those around us and act appropriately and skillfully as leaders and human beings.
Following are some major qualities essential for mindfulness based l leadership:
For mindfulness leadership higher level of intelligence is required. Intelligence is generally expressed in terms of mental ability. Intelligence, to a very great extent, is a natural quality in the individuals because it is directly related with brain. The composition of brain is a natural factor, though many psychologists claim that the level of intelligence in an individual can be increased through various training methods.
(ii) Emotional Stability
A mindfulness leader should have high level of emotional stability. He should be free from bias, is consistent in action, and refrains from anger. He is well adjusted, and has no anti social attitudes. He is self-confident and believes that he can meet most situations successfully.
(iii) Human Relations
A successful leader should have adequate knowledge of human relations that is how he should deal with human beings. Such an important part of a leaders job is to develop people and get their voluntarily cooperation for achieving work, he should have intimate knowledge of people and their relationship to each other. The knowledge of how human beings behave and how they react to various situations is quite meaningful to a leader (Stogdill, 1978, p.47)
Empathy relates to observing the things or situations from others point of view. The ability to look at things objectively and understanding them from others point of view is an important aspect of successful leadership. When one is empathetic, he knows what makes the other fellow think as he does, even though he doesn’t necessary agree with others thought. Empathy requires respect for the other persons, their rights, beliefs values, and feelings.
Objectivity implies that what a mindful leader does should be based on relevant facts and information. He must access these without any bias or prejudice. The leader must base his relationship on his objectivity. He is objective and does not permit himself to get emotionally involved to the extent that he finds it difficult to make an objective diagnosis and implement the action required.
(vi) Motivating Skills
Not only a leader is self-motivated but he has requisite quality to motivate his followers. Though there are many external forces, which motivate a person for higher performance, there is inner drive in people also for motivation to work. The mindfulness based leader can play active role in stimulating these inner drives of his followers. Thus, a leader must understand his people to the extent that he can know how he can activate them.
(vii) Technical skills
The leading of people requires adherence to definite principles, which must be understood and followed for greater success. The ability to plan, organize, delegate, analyze, seek, advice, make decisions, control, and win cooperation require the use of important abilities which constitute technical competence of leadership. The varied technical competence of leader may win support from the followers.
(viii) Communicative skills
A successful leader knows how to communicate effectively. Communication has great force in getting the acceptance from the receivers of communication. A mindfulness leader uses communication skills for persuasive, informative, and simulating purposes. Normally a successful leader is extrovert as compared to introvert.
(ix) Social Skills
A successful leader has social skills. He understands people and knows their strength and weakness. He has the ability to work with people and so conducts himself that he gains their confidence and loyalty, and people cooperate willingly with him.
According to Burns (1978) the mindfulness based style of transformative leadership work is comprise of four components: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration:
(a) Idealized influence
A Mindful leader who shows idealized influence is someone who is usually not affair to make very compelling conviction on a stand that they strongly believe in but not necessary the popular stand. Followers often admire idealized influence leaders as they have a clear set of values that they follow and demonstrate as a role model in which followers can identify with the leader by. This trait has a direct relationship to managing one’s own emotion in the concept of emotional intelligences (Barling et al., 2000, p157). Leaders can serve as a respectable role model for their followers when they able to display self-control on their emotions which thereby enhances the trust of the relationship.
(b). Inspirational motivation
The second component of the mindfulness based leadership is inspirational motivation. As a leader, they can articulate their vision in a powerful persuasive appealing manner that it is naturally inspiring to followers. They will consistently and optimistically communicate the meaning for the task at hand as well as challenging their followers to reach higher than the establish standards. By being able to understand and realize what a follower’s potential is, the leader can better set goals and push the follower towards success more effectively. This is directly related to the understanding of others component of emotional intelligences.
(c). Intellectual stimulation
The third is the art of intellectual stimulation. Mindfulness based Leaders who are high in intellectual stimulation usually encourage creativity in their followers by setting up an aroma to permit trail and error. Furthermore, these leaders often encourage followers to take risk, follow their own instincts, and there is no such thing as a “stupid “suggestion (Barling et al., 2000, p165).
(d). Individualized consideration
Lastly, the component of individualized consideration is the degree of the leader’s ability to listen, understand, and attend to the needs of their followers. Making sure that their followers are getting the respect they deserve for their accomplishment. Perhaps being there, as a mentor or a coach for their career advancements or to be a sympathetic support when problematic issues arise. Being able to correctly realize and understand the needs of followers a leader should be evident in the empathy component of emotional intelligences.
Mindfulness based leadership transforms the way an experienced manager lead his team and organization. It help to understand and respond the corporate challenges in new and transformative ways , develop ways of managing stress in the team and organization; and build capacity to lead and inspire .
Mindfulness based leadership helps manager to gain new insights into long standing patterns in his leadership style and feel supported to be courageous in change and experimentation. Mindful leadership relate better to people at other levels of management; improve capacities in deep listening, dialogue, giving and receiving feedback your team
4. Organizational Constraints to Leadership Role
Organizational constraints can be very powerful and, for that reason, it is important that any serious effort at leadership training should begin at the top to ensure that everyone in the hierarchy understands the philosophy and supports the new approach. Transforming Leadership is concerned with the choice of Leadership role, it is generally outward looking long term and proactive. Transforming leadership focus is on vision and values relating to individual and organization. It develops an individual and generates new ideas. It releases energy by creating a sense of belonging and excitement in the job.
Mindfulness based leadership in the transforming leader required in increasingly complex situation, where performance is difficult to measure directly. Mindful leadership creates a mental attitude in a team, creates a feeling that you can do it and ensures that things are possible and success is in all what we are doing. It creates a climate of success and a sense of belonging. Mindful leadership emphasis that the individual can create a feeling in them, that they will be developed. It promotes self-control and encourages the workforce by giving them responsibilities and ensuring success. Mindful leadership creates a sense of excitement in the job (Ahuja K, 2005, 714).
5. Mindfulness based Leadership in Management – Leading a Team
The ability to lead is vital to managerial success. Yet leadership is hard to define. Military leaders are often compared with business managers and other commercial leaders. Indeed, both types have clear objectives, roles and responsibilities and may share similar qualities, such as vision and the ability to handle a crisis. But there are important differences.
War is an extraordinary situation, requiring authoritarian leaders to command subordinates to take required action and achieve objectives.
Modern business managers, on the other hand, need to be democratic, creating consensus in their teams on objectives and required action. Like their military counterparts, managers motivate their team members by encouraging ambition, the desire to achieve and a wish to contribute to the collective good of the business (Prasad, 2006, p.411).
Some managers may seem born leaders. Most have the potential to develop the skills of organizing, planning, scheduling, setting goals, making decisions, solving problems, communicating, negotiating and supervising. There is no known way to train people on certain traits to become leaders, viz., integrity, honest, enthusiasm and the ability to express themselves clearly – all of which must be demonstrated consistently so that subordinates may see and subsequently respect them.
Mindfulness based leadership in management necessitates pointing the way ahead; leading from the front is far better than pushing from behind. While many leaders are often solitary, go-it-along, vison – arises who impose their world – view on others, managers must take their people with them. They must work with their team, reflecting and using the team’s collective strength as well as employing the strength of their own personal vision (Prasad, 2006, p.412).
5.1. Mindfulness based leadership
The lists of qualities a Mindfulness based leader will require are:
Ø Look for tomorrow’s problems and issues today to detect signs of changes and pitfalls.
Ø Learn to adapt to change, to embrace it and turn it to your advantage.
Ø Set high standards as well as clear objectives.
Ø Think clearly but allow intuition to influence rationality.
Ø Create a sense of value and purpose in work, so individuals believe in what they do and do it successfully.
Ø Provide a positive sense of direction in order to give meaning o the lives of team members.
Ø Act decisively but ensure your decisions are soundly based and not just impulsive.
Ø Set the right tone by your actions and beliefs, thus creating a clear, consistent and honest model to be followed.
Ø Keep your composure and learn to wait for the right time to make decisions and take actions.
Ø Provide an atmosphere of enthusiasm in which individuals are stimulated to perform well, find fulfillment, gain self – respect and play an integral role in meeting the organization’s overall goals.
Ø Be sensitive to the needs and expectations of team members.
Ø Define clear responsibilities and structures, so collective effort is enhanced not hindered.
Ø Recognize what best motivates each team member and work with these motivations to achieve standards and objectives.
Ø Do not constrain the team but determine the boundaries within which they can freely work. (Prasad, 2006, p.412).
Fig. The effective skills for Mindfulness based l leadership
*Copying with stressors
*Using the rational approach
*Using creative approach
[Source: Taken from, Prasad LM, (2006) Organizational Behavior, p 416]
The Training on Mindfulness Based Leadership provides powerful tools for developing the most important personal and organizational leadership skills of Emotional Intelligence. (Mindfulness Based Leadership Training ), Emotional intelligence can be defined as a person’s self-awareness, self-confidence, self-control, commitment and integrity, and a person’s ability to communicate, influence, initiate change and accept change (Gardner, 2001). In numerous clinical case studies, it has been found that higher emotional intelligence leads to better leadership. There are claims that even suggest that lack of emotional intelligence can ultimately lead to leadership derailment. Mindfulness in corporate leadership is the core skill required to develop emotional competencies such as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills for successfully driving the team. (Mindfulness Based Leadership Training)
No one is a born leader. People may have certain abilities that enable them to develop into a leader, but they have to work at it. A successful leader is one who is keenly aware of those forces, which are more relevant to his behavior at any given time. The Mindful leader develops the individual capabilities of his team members and to mould them into a fully functioning team. Above all, he is concerned to create a sense of mission, which will give the team a vision of what their job is all about. This vision carries the group beyond the narrow confines of daily routine and puts work into a context of meaning and value (Prasad, 2006, 364). The mindfulness based leader acts-as a contributor’ or a ‘catalyst’, always-keeping to moderate levels of task and relationships behavior. He accurately understands himself, the individuals and the group he is dealing with, and the organization and the broader social environment in which he operates. However, merely understanding these factors correctly is not enough but he can be successful only when he is able to behave appropriately in the light of these perceptions and understanding. Thus,
“The successful manager of men can be primarily characterized neither as a strong leader nor as a permissive one. Rather he is one who maintains a high batting average in accurately assessing the forces that determine what his most appropriate behavior at any given time should be and in actually being able to behave accordingly. Being both insightful and flexible, he is less likely to see the problem of mindfulness based leadership as a dilemma.” (Tannenbaum & Schmidt, p. 180)
Leadership in business is never a bossism because the leader is not synonym of the boss (Prasad, 2005, p.487). A boss depends upon his authority and as such always drives and orders, but a leader relies upon his confidence and goodwill and always believes in coaching and advising his subordinates. The Mindful leadership calls for
`The ability to comprehend that human being has different motivating forces in different situations, the ability to inspire, and ability to act in a manner that will develop a climate for responding to and arousing motivations.’
(Tannenbaum & Schmidt, p. 181)
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