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Renee on Mindful Leadership

by Spiwe Jefferson
July 30th 2021

If you thought leadership was just a topic for people with direct reports, you were wrong - and so was I. Learn why you too are a leader and how you can harness the power of mindfulness to improve ... More

Yeah. Are you anxious stressed mind racing. Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you looking for secrets to peace and a happier life joints be way jefferson certified mindfulness practitioner and lawyer dedicated to helping you learn to apply mindfulness meditation to the personal and professional challenges of everyday life, harness the power of mindfulness meditation to live and work to your highest and best purpose. Starting with just five minutes a day. Yeah. Okay. Mhm Hi and welcome to Mindful in five where we learn how to apply mindfulness and meditation to the challenges of everyday life in bite sized episodes for people with no time. My name is Viola jefferson and today we have a very special guest who will talk to us about mindful leadership if you lead a group of people or an organization.

This episode is for you much has been written about leadership but can mindfulness help you become a better leader and if so how do you apply it to discuss this with us? Today is my friend Renee. Hi Renee and Welcome to Mindful in five. So it's not completely. Yeah. Okay. Yeah I am. Thank you so much for allowing me to be with you today. What would you like our listeners to know about you? I would like our listeners to know that just like them. I where many hats and embody many roles in life. I'm a mother, I'm a grandmother, sister aunt, friend, uh business advisor and mentor. However the most important role I would say is that of servant leader. So in every capacity I strive to live a life of service to others that glorifies God that is awesome and um Renee and I go way back so it's a delight to have you on this podcast.

We attended law school together and we both worked in the same law firm. I had graduated and was practicing at the firm and I think Renee you're a summer intern there is that right? That is how I started, I think I continued over as the semester resume. But yes definitely I started as a summer intern. Yes, so we had the pleasure of working together and then we have been friends for a long, long time so I am privileged to have you here one more question before we dive into our topic for those of you who are new to this podcast we have two tracks for email subscribers, the Classic Edition and the God Lovers edition for people who want to invite God into their mindfulness meditation practice. So Renee are you a member of team Classic or are you a member of Team God Lovers. I am a member of Team God Lovers, Fantastic. Now explain to us when we say mindful leadership, how do you define that?

Well, I suspect there are as many definitions as there are mindful leaders, former Ceo Starbucks and self professed mindful leader Howard Schultz defines it as leadership that honors people above profits. And then according to the institute for mindful leadership it is development of leadership presence by cultivating focus clarity, creativity and compassion in the services, service of others. I personally define it as leadership marked by focus presence that is at once both self aware and other aware, it is a leadership style that requires you to be fully present as you navigate the impact of self and decision making in relation to others on both a micro and a macro level on a micro level it relates to your personal interaction with the individuals and people groups you lead. And then on a macro level it contemplates the impact of your decision making on individuals, people groups and society as a whole.

Well gosh Renee with that definition. Um you know I'm I'm sort of pressed to ask a follow up question which is you know for the people who are listening to this podcast, who are not leading other people. So if I don't have direct reports, can I still be? And should I still strive to be a mindful leader? Absolutely. Uh I think it is a misnomer. We often think of leadership as a forward facing leading the pack, but there is a notion of leading from behind, so in every capacity that we embody their opportunities for leadership because we are in fact influencers uh be it through direct activity or simply our way of being and um so I'm going to amend the thing I said at the top of the of the show. Um I think I said if you lead people or something like that, if you lead a group of people or an organization and actually what you're telling us is you don't have to lead a group of people.

Uh leadership is how you show up in your work and your day every day. Absolutely, absolutely. So share with us what are some of the benefits of mindful leadership? Well because of mindful Leader is both fully present and self aware um and there are also other aware and they lead by example, I think one of the benefits is that it increases one's ability to motivate and inspire. And that actually harkens back to the notion of weak often lead from behind our way of being is a source of inspiration and can motivate others. Um because mindful leaders are self aware, they tend to cultivate self awareness and others on a micro level, this ultimately translates to stronger teams, increased productivity, innovation and proactive problem solving and that's because people feel empowered with creative license and then on a macro level I think it leads to better decision making because it changes how one makes decisions, it necessarily asked two questions.

One is how can my leadership inspire and empower the individuals I interact with on a day to day basis. And then secondly it asks how can my decision to enhance the lives of people, both individually and collectively and on a local, national and global scale wow um that is really interesting and it makes me think of an adage I heard once that people won't always believe what you say, but they will always believe what you do. So that idea of leading from behind um really is about how we manage ourselves and how we show up into in the workplace, so share with us rene, what does it look like in action? Can you share with us how you employ mindful leadership? Absolutely. I think mindful leadership looks like being fully present. It's not distracted or impatient. It also looks like honesty and awareness of self and others and it looks like compassion and consideration.

In short it looks other centered uh to apply that in a practical matter. For example, in my life as a founder and executive producer of a multimedia production company. I employ mindful leadership in driving the mission and values of the organization on a mindful on a micro level. I employ it in my interactions with our leadership team, staff consultants and vendors, No two persons are like and everyone has different motivators and my goal is to create a culture that honors people first. So I purpose daily to be fully present in every interaction and seek to understand what motivates the people I work with. And then I try to play to those motivations on a macro level it is exemplified by how I do business and the type of content that we produce, our goal is to do business in a way that positively impacts our internal and external communities. In fact one of our value statements is we love everyone to life in every interaction and then finally we're committed to producing content that uplifts societal good and positively impacts the interests of our local, national and global community.

And so that directly relates to the macro decision making, We've made a decision to do that. Well that sounds amazing. So for the person who is listening and who says, gosh, I too would like to be that kind of leader. How can a person become a mindful leader? Well, you know, I don't think mindful leadership is something that comes naturally to most people because human beings are basically self centred. However, it's definitely a leadership style that can be learned and it begins by adopting a personal mindfulness practice with the aim of first becoming self aware and fully present. Um I think one must first become self aware of who you are, your strengths, your weaknesses and the ebbs and flows of the same, but without just judgment. Just simply aware for me, this is accomplished through mindfulness meditation that incorporates self reflection, practices mindfulness meditation as you know, teaches us to be fully present and then self reflection teaches us to be self aware as we become fully present and self aware.

There's a natural progression towards other awareness in this phase of mindfulness development. One contemplates self in relation to others, how can I use myself, which includes my strengths and my weaknesses to inspire others to acts of greatness. It requires me to be fully present and aware in my interaction with others as I seek to understand, I'll be it to varying degrees. The people I interact with on a day to day basis, it actually harkens back to the early development. Every child goes through as they learn to interact with the world. In the beginning, a child seeks to understand others to achieve a desired aim, usually a self centered one. I how do I get this person to do what I want them to, because I want them to do it for my, you know, so because as human beings, we're basically, even from infancy were basically self driving mindfulness as it relates to leadership as an additional lens.

And it asked the question, how can I inspire others to achieve a desired aim for their benefit and the benefit of uh so let's suppose that you have somebody who's like, I love it, I'm doing that. Um and they do it for a bit and they get off track. So what should a person do if they find themselves getting off track? You must immediately work to re center yourself again. You must start with yourself being in a place of centeredness and aware there are a number of ways that they can accomplish this personally. I find that I get off track when I neglect my daily meditation practices. So I recenter myself by returning to the discipline of meditation, I'm a god lover. So my meditation practice includes meditating on biblical scriptures, prayer. I sometimes employ meditative movement and I try to spend at least 30 minutes in reflective silence and breathing exercises each day.

I find that when I am re centered in who I am, I am fully present and I'm self aware, I'm better able to relate to others and discern the impact of self myself and my decisions on others. Well, this is very helpful information Renee and what is your thought on how these principles translate as you said, you're a God lover. So how does this uh concept translate for God lovers? So for me as a god lover and a christ follower, uh directly relates to a biblical scripture, often find myself coming back to in both my personal and professional interactions and that's Philippians 33 through four. And it admonishes us to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility to consider others, even as we consider ourselves, each of us should look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others as a christ follower and God lover, it translates to every interaction in every minute in every area of my life.

Okay, so if we were to recap and distill this for our listeners. Um the first thing I feel like I take away from this is everybody can be a mindful leader. And um if you were to say sort of the high points the if you remember nothing else from this conversation, what would you advise our listeners to take away? I would advise our listeners to most definitely cultivate a practice that will allow you to be centered and present. Um, and then in that contemplate itself self reflection is something that's difficult to do. But it's I think one of the most important disciplines in life because we perceive ourselves quite frankly in relation to others. And if we don't have an accurate view of ourselves, it most certainly impacts how we move through the world.

And so I think that is one definite takeaway and necessary part in the personal evolution of any individual. And then to also remember that leadership is not always the person who's standing up on the pedestal. We can leave from behind. And we all lied every day with every interaction. The question and the choice is how will I lead? Mm It's a little bit like your personal brand. Absolutely. Which is what that reminds me of. So what are some resources our listeners can tap into to learn about Mindful leadership. Well, you know, finding the space to leave practical guide to Mindful leadership. It was written by Janice martarano who was the former vice president and general counsel Procter and Gamble. And she's also the founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership. And you can find out more about that resource at www. Institute for mindful leadership dot org.

And then there's also another book written by Howard Schultz in partnership with Joanne Gordon Called onward. And while it is not about mindful leadership per se because he is a mindful leader, there are all sorts of G. M's about the discipline of mindful leadership in that. And then I also recommend Oprah Winfrey, Super Soul sunday podcast. Um It has a whole series on mindfulness that includes mindful leadership thought um some from some of the leaders and I found it to be a really great resource. Mhm. I'm a big super soul sunday fans. So and a lot of her and I think you know what I'm finding as I talk to people about mindfulness is there are lots of people who don't think of themselves as particularly mindful people but they're engaged in mindful behaviors and so it's not the thing that you wake up one day and say I am not going to be a mindful person but it does take focus and effort and intention to stay focused and present in the moment without judgment.

And it's frankly it's pretty difficult. Um So you know friends, there are many resources out there that will teach you how to do random things mindfully like how to mindfully walk or how to mindfully eat a reason the mindful and five differences that we strive to apply mindfulness to the challenges of everyday life leadership is certainly one of those things that if you are new to contemplating it, you want to learn how to do it well. And um if you have been sort of focused on leadership for a while, you realize that you're always a student and you continue to grow as a leader rene. Thank you so much for adding to our arsenal of mindful tools for um leaders today. Thank you so much for having me. It's been a joy to be able to share with your audience. Absolutely. Likewise and I always enjoy your company. So every day that I get to listen to you is a privilege. Um friends. If you have graduated to mindful ninja status by getting the weekly emails, give yourself the luxury of time by using the five day, five minute meditations this week to examine ways in which you can improve your leadership approach if you are not a mindful ninja yet you can sign up in the notes for this podcast, you will immediately receive a proven five step tool kit to jump start your meditation practice in addition to new guided meditation.

Each guidance each month and invitations to meditation sessions. Live with me and members of our mindful in five community until next time. This is the way saying, be mindful and be well, thank you for listening to mindful in five, join the mindful in five community at www dot mindful in five dot com to sign up for the weekly companion emails to this podcast, which include a new guided meditation each month and five day, five minute meditations. To supercharge your journey towards inner peace and success, visit the instagram page at Mindful in five or the facebook page at speedway Publications until next time. Be mindful and be well.

Renee on Mindful Leadership
Renee on Mindful Leadership
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