Last weekend I finally finished my Yoga teacher training diploma, after 2 years of very intense work. I remember enrolling in the course when I was still on mat leave from my last corporate job, thinking that I would have had the mental and physical space to carry on with even this OTHER commitment.
(What a naïve first-time mum I was! It’s been incredibly hard!)
In these two years- whilst studying yoga in the ‘background’- I also qualified as a coach and set up my own coaching practice.
Yet, when I look back, I realise something more profound has taken place: a noticeable increase of self and general awareness.
I’ve learnt that yoga teaches you to act with awareness through conscious breathing and stillness of mind. When you are conscious and aware of your body and mind, you act with intention towards yourself and others around you.
If you know your mind, you have more control over it so that you can see, hear, think and speak better.
I’ve learnt that breathing with awareness is an act of leadership and that self-awareness is an essential leadership skill.
Yoga has strengthened my belief in conscious leadership.
A conscious leader is someone aware of his/her motives and acts with intention, wanting to create an outcome that is transformative and empowering for the people that share the same vision.
Yoga really has reminded me of the why I have set up Kokoro: I wanted to create a space where people are free to be their authentic selves and have ‘permission’ to nurture their feelings and thoughts, so that they can lead more productive and mindful lives, inspiring other people to do the same.
Thanks to this reminder I could find the resilience to carry on with the teacher training, as having a purpose is probably one of the strongest sources of resilience we can rely on.
The biggest lesson (and inspiration) I learnt through my career is that you don’t need to shut your kokoro (heart, mind, feelings) to be professional.
Conscious leaders see and treat others as human beings, being aware of their words and actions. They are mindful of the present and are able to reflect, instead of reacting to situations and people. This inevitably leads to create a deeper connection with people and consequently to work better as a team.
I know it’s not easy. Of course, it’s not.
It’s a long journey and it requires practice like anything else.
But it’s a movement towards a more human version of our workplaces, built on trust.
So, what are the fundamental characteristic of a conscious leaders?
I have identified 3 to start with- which are not by any means exhaustive, so please, feel free to add more:
- To be a conscious leader means to show authenticity. To be authentic you need to cultivate self-awareness and awareness of others and our surroundings.
- To be a conscious leader means having our senses totally tuned into what’s happening that goes beyond us and what we want to say.
- To be a conscious leader means you take time to pause and reflect on people’s needs, despite the unstoppable urgency to deliver and create outcome. Stop and be mindful of the present to be able to move forward with intention.
When I mention these concepts to some of my clients I often notice a vale of suspicion in their faces as if I had said something completely out of this world.
However, I practice what I preach – that means that if I can do it you can do it too!
For instance, very often when working with clients on employee engagement I spend time in their workplace sitting and observing, without any judgement. Just savoring the scenarios that are presented to me. This is often more insightful than any other written culture audit I could do.
I notice different body languages; I hear tone of voices and loud sights; I perceive frustration, accomplishments, solidarity, competition, happiness …I often hear no silence and see no space .
This gives me a rich flavour of an organisation.
So, here a little exercise for you to start shifting towards a more mindful leadership style.
In the next meeting, try and do the followings:
- ditch the agenda and todo list
- stop and observe
- reduce the amount of words you say
- shift your attention from yourself towards others. What do you notice? See? Hear? Smell? Feel?
- write your thoughts down.
How did you find the exercise? What did you discover? What did you think you’ve gained and what you’ve missed?
I would love to know about your experience! I am always open to read your comments and genuinely interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic!
I leave you with a lovely quote ….
‘Be like a lotus. Let the heart speak its beauty. Be grateful to the mud, water, air and the light’Amit Ray
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