Excuse Me, But It’s Not About You!
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer                                                            

Recently I was reflecting on an experience I once had with one of my bosses.

It was a rough stretch of days, if not weeks. Things just weren’t going well. I was tired. I was stressed out, and quite frankly I knew something needed to change. I went in to talk with my boss, and at that moment I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I know that what I got isn’t what I was looking for. A meeting I desperately needed was hijacked by a boss who felt the need to tell me everything about himself and why I just needed to follow his advice and his example.  Liz Wiseman, the author of Multipliers, would have called that boss a diminisher. All he could think to do was talk about himself, and what he thought I needed to do to fix my issues. That is certainly no way to encourage an employee.

Unfortunately, this is not that uncommon. Many leaders think their role is to sweep in and solve everyone’s problems. Furthermore, they aren’t aware of what may actually be causing their behavior. If we ask them to “engage” with their teams, it can get worse because they just force engagement by scheduling one on one meetings. What employees are looking for is a leader who is fully present. A leader who is really “there” for them and for the team. A leader who is an authentic listener who listens for what isn’t said as much as what is said and then asks follow-up questions to gain an even greater understanding. So why aren’t more leaders like this? One answer is that many simply don’t know how to get there. Training, mentoring, and coaching will help, but perhaps an often-missed piece of this leadership puzzle is Mindfulness.

You read that correctly, Mindfulness. I found this straightforward definition – Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.

Mindfulness as a leader is critical. When we are presented with the opportunity to connect with a team member, we need to be fully present. That moment is not about us. It’s not about what we think or what we think the answer should be. We need to be fully present and aware of the situation.  We need to purge our minds of any preconceived ideas and solutions so we can authentically listen to the words being said and have the perception of what isn’t being said. Then, and only then, will we be able to offer meaningful comments and suggestions?

Join Marisa and me for Episode 40 of The Next Page podcast as we explore the ways we can become more mindful and how mindfulness can benefit other areas in our life.

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