Leadership Development at UW-Whitewater Business School
I had the opportunity last night to teach a class at the UW-Whitewater Business School for a Graduate course on Leadership Development. I was invited to speak to the class on self-awareness, motivation and the human aspect of being an effective leader. I knew exactly what I wanted to present and what I felt was so important for business leaders in todays world to learn and develop, Self-Awareness and Mindfulness.
The class did some internal work and answered some in-depth questions that I called an Internal Resume. This process is used to formulate what truly drives and motivates the direction that they want to take their business career and to define the Intentions that will guide them to living a fulfilled life and work with purpose. Questions such as:
- What does a successful like look like to me?
- How do I measure progress and growth?
- How do I measure bravery and courage?
- Do I value process over outcome?
- What are my 2-3 strengths that I exhibit? etc.
I had them digging deep. I have to say if I would have done this work earlier on in my life, I would have saved myself a lot of time and energy in situations that were not in alignment with how I really wanted to use my resources. It is more important to live with good questions such as these than to know the answers.
Mindfulness is important to leaders in numerous ways. Recent research has indicated that a leader’s mindfulness is the optimal strategy to engage their people, create better communication, and improve performance. (“The Mind of a Leader.” Rasmus & Carter)
Mindfulness is a tool and means to take inventory of our thoughts, non-judgmentally and create a plan for the most effective way to take action at that given time. It is the skill of bringing the mind back to the present and maintaining focus on what is important. Take for example a leader who is looking at emails on her phone while you are asking them an important question about a task that you are assigned to do. How does this make you feel? Will you get the correct information from your leader? What if there is a deeper meaning behind your question? The person you are trying to communicate with will most likely never get the full story if they are not mindfully present with you in this interaction. This example really hit home for them because they have all been on both sides of these types of interactions. A good reminder that your emails and texts can wait.
Master communicators are excellent listeners. They are present and willing to truly hear and understand what is being communicated. Being present is the cornerstone of getting the most out of someone.
We all engaged in a lively discussion afterward and the class was eager to ask how they can take mindfulness and their core values into their careers. My advice: Know who you are and what you stand for, and Be Present!