During my career, I’ve been in many leadership positions and I’ve worked with many different leaders. We all seem to get tripped up and stumble in the same places, and our effectiveness suffers. We don’t take the time, or aren’t able, to get through all the noise and confusion to see what is actually happening; we can’t clear enough mental space in our overloaded brains to come up with groundbreaking solutions; and we too often lose touch with the very people that can help us navigate change successfully.
The qualities of an effective leader that I’ve observed and experienced really boil down to three things: Clarity, creativity, and connection.
First is the ability to see things clearly. Before making a decision on a new product, a judgment on marketing direction, or an employee interaction, it’s important to be fully aware of the facts. This would seem self-evident, but often we are so caught up in our preconceptions and our assumptions that we fail to see what is right in front of us.
Second, we need to be able to be creative, to solve problems in novel and interesting ways—to innovate. The skill that is called for here is not an ability to analyze the situation, figure it out, and think. It is the ability to get out of our own way. Even Newton and Einstein needed this creative “space” to find interesting and innovative answers to problems that had eluded their predecessors for years.
Third, it is fundamental that we connect with others in meaningful ways. To lead we must not only appeal to the minds of the people we work with, but also to touch their hearts—to understand what motivates them and to really care about them.
Mindfulness is the most direct path I know to cultivate these qualities of clarity, creativity, and connection. Leaders and their teams benefit from practicing mindfulness skills in their personal lives and bringing them into the workplace. Learn how.