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The $46 billion spent annually around the globe on leadership development seems to be doing little to resolve the leadership crisis, as 88% of global employees say their leaders fail to engage them and 35% would accept a pay cut just to see their leaders fired. Authors Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter say the solution lies in addressing people’s intrinsic motivation.

Today’s workforce is increasingly looking for meaning, human connectedness, happiness and the ability to make a positive contribution to the world through their work. Unfortunately, however, a 2016 Gallup engagement survey found that only 13% of the global workforce is engaged in their work, while 24% is actively disengaged, and 82% of employees see their leaders as fundamentally uninspiring.
Clearly, most leaders are not addressing employees’ intrinsic needs. The authors of The Mind of the Leader suggest that rather than focusing on the bottom line, as classical management practice suggests, we now need something more. Based on an analysis of more than 30,000 leaders, the authors identifi ed 3 leadership qualities essential to meeting this challenge: mindfulness, selfl essness and compassion. As Javier Pladevall, CEO of Audi Volkswagen, Spain, told the authors, “Leadership today is about unlearning management and relearning being human.”

First train your own mind

The authors start with the idea that in order to manage others, you must fi rst be able to manage yourself — leadership through self-leadership. For them, the cornerstone of self-leadership is mindful awareness, or taking a moment to breathe and take your own emotional pulse, which “helps us switch off the auto-pilot and get in the driver’s seat of our mind.”
“The ability to apply calm and clear focus to the right tasks, at the right time, in the right way is what makes a leader exceptional,” Hougaard and Carter write. But the diffi culty of remaining focused in our attention-defi cit economy is starkly documented in a survey the authors conducted: 73% of leaders feel distracted from their current task either “some” or “most” of the time; 67% view their minds as cluttered and lacking clear priorities. As a result, 65% fail to complete their most important tasks.
If you are like many managers, you have tried various tools to increase workplace eff ectiveness: popular time-management techniques, productivity software and collaborative platforms. These may help, but after a while, your team’s efficiency may plateau. The last and perhaps best resort is to train the mind. And remember, it is hard to lead your teams towards greater mindful awareness at work if you have yet to develop your own.
Mindful focus, an important benefit of mindfulness practice, is one way to improve your own and also your teams’ effectiveness. The authors cite the case of the global consulting firm Accenture. As people’s ability to concentrate generally began to decline, Accenture leadership decided to offer mindfulness training to its teams. Evaluating the results of the training in 20 countries in Europe and the Americas, the company noted a 30% increase in focus, a 25% increase in prioritization skills, a 34% increase in mental clarity and a 23% decrease in multitasking activities. The results indicate a significant gain in mental effectiveness and ability to serve clients after mindfulness training.

Turn your focus to others

 

Excerpt from Business Digest N°289, September 2018

To go further

Read the full 3-part feature

Point of view

3 essential leadership qualities

Interview with Cécile Eurendijan

Gemalto: the positive impacts of caring leadership

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