It’s interesting that we have two kinds of leaders today. We have those who actively create cultures of engagement and those who actually engender disengagement.
What makes the difference? Is it their pedigrees or salaries, personality types or track records? Is it the obvious or a more subtle chemistry of factors?
We now have compelling evidence that our quality of attention is the key differentiating factor in how we learn, work and live. It is equally true for how people lead.
High engagement leaders are mindful leaders.
Mindful leaders live in the present. They pay attention to the uniqueness and possibilities of each moment. Clear that now is the only time they ever have, they exude a sense of presence that is contagiously engaging, buoyant and realistic.
The practice of presence gives them an agile sense of timing and an inspiring sense of perspective. They are flexible without being distracted and passionate without being myopic. They treat change as inevitable and vital.
Unmindful leaders live in the past and future. Their sense of timing is regularly off. They come across as somewhere between distracted and obsessed. As much inauthentic lip service they deliver otherwise, they treat change as the enemy to their illusion of power.
They stay untrustworthy with unspoken agendas and unrealistic in expectations because they don’t live in the present. Unmindful leaders squander an unproductive amount of time planning and reporting because these excuse them from accountability in the present.
Mindful leaders get measurably more done because they are continuously engaged in the present. Even their sense of planning and reporting has the character of presence.
The world of an unmindful leader is a world of drama and dogma. The world of a mindful leader is a world of discovery and difference.
Mindful leaders treat conversations as opportunity spaces for action. They are always making agreements, generating and testing options, initiating and completing things. Regardless of agenda, duration or location, their meetings have a palpable feel of accomplishment and engagement. They do not allow people to unmindfully postpone the possible in self-fulfilling excuses about the impossible.
Unmindful leaders see vision as the assumptive delegation of action into the future. They think they’re demonstrating leadership by treating conversations as spaces for endless discussing, defending and dictating. Their meetings result in more meetings. Communication around them remains consistently fractured, fictional and frustrating.
Mindful leaders ask great questions that move people from uncertainty to creativity and talk to action. Unmindful leaders see conversations as opportunities to convert others to the narcissism of assumptions.
Mindful leaders engage people’s strengths, passions and connections. Unmindful leaders are consistently uninterested in these because their priority is fixing people’s weaknesses, deficiencies and differences.
Mindful leaders are regularly seen engaging by walking around. Unmindful leaders don’t have to look up from their screens and meeting tables because they remain intrinsically uninterested in the present.
Mindful people have little tolerance for unmindful leaders because their unmindfulness creates a culture of disengagement.
Unmindful people prefer the disengagement of unmindful leaders because it entitles them to a lack of accountability they prefer. Their refusal to share authentic feedback enables their disengaging leaders to conspire in the illusion that their unmindful leadership is responsible for what people achieve in spite of it.
Fortunately, there is an emerging genre of leaders who doubt the value of the unmindful model. They have an intuition that, even though unmindful leadership is normative and incentivised, it doesn’t create an environment that brings out the best in people. They seek to become more mindful in their approach to leadership.
They have a sense that the engagement of mindful leadership has far more benefits and fewer costs than disengagement from unmindful leadership.
The good news is that becoming a more mindful leader is completely possible because everyone already has all requisite skills.
We now have solid evidence that mindful leaders outperform unmindful leaders on every dimension of performance, development and interaction. The key to high engagement organizations is mindful leadership.
Every organization, school and community needs to demand nothing less.
Jack Ricchiuto is a writer, engagement artisan and author of “Abundant Possibilities: The Power Of Presence In An Intentional Life” released this month. More: JackRicchiuto.com