In simple terms, WOW! Let me step back a few months to set the stage for this book review. An admired colleague of mine told me about “Mindful Leadership” by Maria Gonzalez. I must admit, I was quite cynical at first. I’ve been engaged in leadership development for decades, including continuous work on my own effectiveness. I have also dabbled in meditation and been introduced to mindfulness. But Mindful Leadership? Yes!
After digesting the book and testing the very practical principles and practices Ms. Gonzalez shares, I can and do recommend this book to anyone who is looking to grow as a leader of self and/or others. Please permit me to share a few details as to why I so strongly challenge you to consume this book for yourself and those who look to you for leadership.
Leadership and Mindfulness
Right from the start, Ms. Gonzalez clarifies her beliefs regarding leadership and mindfulness.
Her leadership paradigm not only resonates with me; it also aligns with the cultures of top performing organizations throughout the world. Namely, every one of us is a leader and leadership is much less a role than an activity.
The power of this paradigm increases when combined with mindfulness – simply noticing the way things are. This requires us to focus in the here and now. Combining the two really puts the burden of effective leadership on the shoulders of each of us who have the opportunity to lead ourselves and/or others.
In a very practical manner, Ms. Gonzalez then introduces nine specific ways of being. These ways are exhibited by successful, mindful leaders. These leaders are present, aware, calm, focused, clear, equanimous, positive, compassionate and impeccable.
However, before increasing effectiveness in these ways of being, Ms. Gonzalez points out that we need to strengthen our ability to be mindful through meditation and the application of key mindfulness techniques.
Plus, we must honestly face and confront five hindrances that impede our success; attachment, aversion, ignorance, confusion and delusion, envy and jealousy, and pride.
If you think learning about those won’t bring a sting of recognition and need for improvement for you, as it did for me, then I would like to talk with you about how you have personally achieved perfection. These are critical barriers we must face and strive to overcome in order to develop our mindful leadership.
Ms. Gonzalez uses a powerful and pragmatic approach to help us understand and develop mindful leadership. First, she introduces and paints a clear picture of the nature of the principle, i.e., be present. Second, she sets before us a real-world scenario and the before-and-after response. The before response reflects the very typical and natural human reaction, and the after response shows us how a mindful leader would respond. Third, she gives us a bit of mindfulness training and calls out the hindrance(s) that may be impeding our ability to engage in mindful leadership. Finally, she shares very practical strategies for putting mindfulness into action.
In closing, Ms. Gonzalez leaves us with what I have taken as a challenge to embrace mindfulness and become a more effective, mindful leader. I’ve begun to implement these principles and practices in my life, and have invited other leaders at England Logistics to engage in mindful leadership.
As a Talent Management/HR executive with over 20 years of talent and human resource management experience, I strive to deliver value generating services to internal and external clients. This has provided me with the ability to lead or influence people in developing solutions to achieve higher levels of measurable success. My professional interests are targeted toward helping clients achieve their optimum performance through people solutions.