For too long, being a strong and resilient leader meant leaving your personal thoughts and emotions at the door. Today, expert research and editorial has uncovered the power of a leader who is authentic; a leader who is mindful, and a leader who is vulnerable.
The WarriorU podcast was recently joined by leading Psychologist and Executive Coach, Mamta Saha, to talk about this exact topic. Using her knowledge and experience of Eastern wisdoms combined with Western psychology techniques, she showed how rewiring your brain and getting in touch with who you truly are can create a more well-rounded and resilient leader.
Don’t have time to listen to the entire episode? We’ve rounded her top three tips from her podcast episode below:
1. Be more mindful
Mindfulness is a powerful tool to have in your corporate arsenal. And it has the research to back it, with more than one study indicating its benefits to physical and psychological health, and improved performance in the workplace.
Far from simply ‘being in the moment’, mindfulness is about being hyper-aware of your thoughts, feelings and surroundings, without passing judgement over them, says Mamta.
‘We often subconsciously place judgement on situations we find ourselves in – perhaps when we come out of a difficult meeting or conversation, or hear some news we didn’t or did want to hear. Our internal narrative – those little voices in our mind – will project and reflect: ‘that was good’, ‘that was bad’, or ‘I didn’t want it to be like that’ or ‘I’m not really comfortable with where I am right now’,’ explains Mamta.
‘Mindfulness isn’t about not having any of those little voices or internal narrative. It’s just about noticing them!’
So why be more mindful, particularly at work? For Mamta, the standout benefit of mindfulness is its contribution to our awareness. Mindfulness allows us to drink in more information about particular issues, problems or circumstances – including our unconscious biases – and therefore make more informed decisions. ‘The more mindful we become, the more aware we become, and the smarter and more astute our choices as leaders will be,’ she says.
2. Think positively – always
This isn’t a line from a cringey self-help book. Instead, it’s a strategy anchored in the space between stimulus (a challenge or adverse event) and the response (how you behave).
‘I think we have a choice on the mindset and perspective that we take on absolutely everything,’ says Mamta.
‘Some things that we go through in life are just unfathomable. You think: ‘why is this happening to me? How can I even process this situation?
‘But I do believe that we always have a choice about how we see things and to extract the learnings and opportunities from difficult situations.’
And this has never been more useful than in a professional environment. How many times have you received an email that made your stomach drop or body temperature rise? How many times have you or one of your team made a mistake that kept you up at night?
If you can turn that challenge or problem into an opportunity to learn, it not only reduces your stress levels and makes you more resilient, it also contributes to your business’ agility and ability to improve. That said, adopting a positive mindset isn’t about being a ‘positive Pollyanna’ and ignoring a mistake or problem. Instead, it’s about acknowledging a challenging situation and then asking yourself: ‘What am I learning?’ rather than ‘what am I losing?’.
‘We have to process our emotions because they are real and they’re valid,’ says Mamta.
‘It’s about having something painful happen, and then very quickly pivoting to think: ‘ok, what can I get from this?’, ‘What can I learn from this?’ and ‘How is this serving me and everybody else?’
3. Be your true self (even at work)
Is it appropriate – or even possible – to be your true self at work? Mamta says yes. What’s more, she says authenticity is the foundation of a resilient and effective leader. Why? Because people – your team and colleagues – put more trust in those people that are genuine.
‘My philosophy is that we are not robots, we are human beings. How can you suddenly get to the doors of your organisation and put on a hat that is very different to who you are on the outside?’ says Manta.
‘My view is that authenticity is being at your best. It’s you not having to try and be something that you’re not, in order to fit into a space that’s not aligned with who you are. It’s about having the confidence in who you are, so the place that you are in adjusts to that.’
So, how do you ensure you’re being authentic? First, you work to understand yourself, and acknowledge and accept your current emotions and challenges. How are you feeling and what are you thinking?
Then, decide how you would like to show up to the office – be it happy, patient or calm, or some other state entirely. If you struggle to show up in that way, have the courage to be vulnerable.
‘It’s about being okay with not being okay, and owning your state. You choose how you show up, but if you’re struggling to show up in that way – share it,’ says Mamta.
‘I’ve found that when you share these feelings and thoughts that you hesitate about, they sort of dissipate in that moment. It’s amazing how things suddenly become a bit better and you create this space to just be who you are. You move into what you want to be and what you aspire to be.’
In other words, self-awareness and vulnerability at work enables you to be more authentic, improve your working relationships and become more resilient to life’s trials.
After more tips for building your resilience, spirituality and sense of wellbeing, both at work and at home? Listen to the full podcast with Mamta on the WarriorU website.
Mindfulness and self-awareness form the foundation of the corporate teachings of WarriorU’s parent company, Hindsight Leadership. If you are interested in creating more effective and resilient teams and leaders in your business, contact one of the friendly team today.