Mindful Leadership in Organisations

Be the change that you wish to see in the worldMahatma Gandhi

It is no coincidence that today’s post starts with this important quote; I have indeed spent the last months figuring out the organisational culture of an international association being confronted once again with entrenched positions, misunderstandings related to poor communication, a lack of intercultural dialogue and pretty much negative mindsets.

Looking at all this with my trained “mindful” eyes and as always believing in the power of motivation, empathy and a transparent, strategic, positive way forward, I have begun to slowly impact this environment by simply “walking the talk“, looking at solutions rather than problems and listening to the various actors and their concerns to identify an appropriate way forward.

Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn via Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn via Foter.com / CC BY

Among others, I reminded people that:

  1. Rome wasn’t built in a day meaning that what slowly came to undermine processes and hampered the motivation of people cannot be changed in a couple of weeks but takes time to evolve.
  2. Everybody has a role to play meaning that a culture of complaining will lead to even more complaints, whereas a culture of trust, empathy and positive focus will shift moods and move mountains.
  3. Intercultural and effective communications is a skill and can be learned. Working in Switzerland, where many different languages are spoken, being sensitive to different cultural habits and backgrounds is even more important than in other local contexts so that teams can productively work together.

The next mile stone on the road to a more mindful organisation is set: a creative vision finding workshop for staff and Board where unconscious wishes and thoughts will have a central role to play. Looking very much forward to seeing how people will react as this doesn’t follow the “usual” way to proceed!

Stay tuned for more insights from within,

Jenny

Photo credit: symphony of love via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: symphony of love via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

 

 

 

How assumptions can mislead us

Perceptions, assumptions and thoughts can lead us completely in the wrong direction sometimes

To illustrate what I mean by that, I would like to share a story with you; something that you might have experienced as well, in one form or another. It is entitled “Cookie Thief” from Valerie Cox.

A woman was waiting at the airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book, but happened to see,
That the man beside her, as bold as could be,
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between,
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

Photo credit: Mrs Magic via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

She read, munched cookies, and watched the clock,
As the gustly “cookie thief” diminished her stock
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I’d blacken his eye!”

 

With each cookie she took, he took one too.
When only one was left, she wondered what he’d do.
with a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, and he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought, “Oh brother,
This guy has some nerve, and he’s also so rude,
Why, he didn’t even show any gratitude!”

She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate,
Refusing to look at the “thieving ingrate”.

She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
Then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise.
There were her bag of cookies in front of her eyes!

“If mine are here,” she moaned with despair.
“Then the others were his and he tried to share!”
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!!!!

 

What did you think reading this? Have you experienced something similar in your life before?

What can we learn from this? Well, next time you find yourself in a difficult, challenging situation, take a moment to be mindful and challenge your assumptions, checking what the reality really looks like instead. Maybe you are getting entangled in your mind’s stories, triggering emotions, sensations, judgements…

Things are not always as they appear and taking a moment to pause and observe what is will allow you to respond more skillfully and to communicate more effectively.

Why Employee Engagement and Enablement?

Mindful Leadership versus Engagement and Enablement2Competitive companies nowadays face an enormous pressure and so do their employees. Today’s best leaders have the resilience to cope with the many challenges and uncertainties coming their way and the resolve to sustain long-term success. Where does this resilience come from?

Well, from focus and clarity on one hand while making important decisions, then from creativity while transforming their enterprises, compassion for their employees and customers and lastly of course from courage to go their own way.

Studies conducted by companies evaluating their own executives have proven that the top 10% of performers displayed superior competencies in what is called, emotional intelligence, rather than in purely cognitive thinking. Capabilities like self-confidence and initiative; bouncing back from setbacks and staying cool under stress; empathy and powerful communication, collaboration; and teamwork all make for better business results.

Of course, when people feel motivated they perform better. High levels of employee engagement can for example boost revenue growth by up to 2.5 times!

But employee engagement is only half of the story. It’s not enough feeling great about your job if you cannot get things done. That’s why it is important for employees to be “enabled” too.

And exactly for that reason, the focus lies on you, your capacity to motivate your teams, engage and enable them. You become actors as well as owners of a sustainable future within your organisation or company by embodying change and people focus. Walk the talk and your employees will follow!

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

Empowering Women and Minorities for Leadership Positions

Creating Value – Embracing Diversity – Leading Mindfully

Context and current situation :

Although in the EU women make up nearly half the workforce and more than half of new university graduates, they are still under-represented in top leadership positions. And this not only applies to women: minorities are also hardly represented at top management levels, although demographics indicate that a diverse workforce is definitely needed in order to maintain current living standards and sustainable growth.

Change is already on its way :

One of the founding principles of the European Union is the equality of women and men. According to a Europe 2020 initiative, policy options for targeted measures to enhance female participation in decision-making at the European level will be implemented, forty percent of top leadership positions are to be held by women. In a number of European countries important steps have already been taken to support women on their path towards leadership positions. In March 2015, Germany decided to introduce a women quota: by 2016, thirty percent of board members have to be female.

However, a quota and targeting women alone is not enough. Minorities also have a role to play as Europe sees more emigration and immigration. What is more, qualifying, training and developing competent women and minorities will not happen over night. Additionally, men will also need to be included in this change towards more diversity.

This is exactly where we come into play:

We are convinced that all these efforts ultimately have one goal: managing future challenges by embracing diversity within companies and society as such. We simply cannot afford, not to utilise important resources – no matter whether they are women, minorities or older people.

On the other hand, our world is increasingly volatile, ambiguous, uncertain and complex. Looking at systems in a more holistic way, using all available resources therefore becomes a MUST! Emotional intelligence, mutual trust, empathy and mindful leadership will be key in this process in order to achieve sustainable goals, grow as individuals and organisations and mange future challenges.

DiversitynUI have recently teamed up with Sabine Chmielewski to build DiversitynU.com, tackling the challenges of the 21st century. We value humans first and believe that the secret lies in realising the enormous potential we all have.

What an exciting journey! Stay tuned and contact me to learn more or to ask for help/an offer.

Jenny

Employers: Time to use your Untapped Potential!

Women empowermentYesterday while trying to find my way to the bathroom in a restaurant, I stumbled upon this sign…. While it made me laugh, it also made me wonder about the various initiatives targeting women that are currently under way to ensure more diversity in companies, equal pay and related issues.

Not only the European Union with its 2020 priorities, but also the UN with the “He for She” initiative are embracing the issue of gender equality encompassing better access to employment and education. Many governments are also taking action by enforcing thresholds for women on boards, only recently to be followed in Germany.

Looking at the demographics for Europe, we believe that it is time for companies to use so far nearly untapped potential, meaning bringing not only women onboard and into leadership positions but also minorities and qualified migrants. Diversity gets a broader meaning and won’t be a nice slogan in some mission statement anymore. The capacity to attract a motivated and diverse workforce by offering them a flexible, sustainable work environment where they can co-create, be treated equally, have a chance to grow and use their creativity, in short get a sense of fulfillment is a must for any company nowadays.

Following a mindfulness based approach to leadership, training, coaching and consulting, we further believe that emotional intelligence is a key ingredient to personal development, team building and leadership development alike. Mutual trust, emotional intelligence, empathy and mindfulness are needed to achieving goals, developing further as an individual or an organisation and engaging in change.

 Do you agree with us? Or maybe not? We would be happy to hear from you…

Have a great weekend!

Jenny

Mindful listening: 10 easy tips

“Spend your leisure time in cultivating an ear attentive to discourse, for in this way you will find that you learn with ease what others have found out with difficulty.”- Isocrates on Goodreads.com.

Mindful Listening
As a new week is about to start, let me share some really simple but extremely important tips for effective, mindful listening with you:

  1. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact
  2. Be attentive, but relaxed
  3. Keep an open mind
  4. Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying
  5. Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions”
  6. Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions
  7. Ask questions only to ensure understanding
  8. Try to feel what the speaker is feeling
  9. Give the speaker regular feedback
  10. Pay attention to what is not said, to non-verbal cues

Enjoy your week!

Jenny

Photo credit: sadmafioso / Foter / CC BY-NC

Empowering Women to Lead

Meet my Team!

As we are heading up to our first Mindful Leadership Workshop in Morocco, entitled “Empowering Women to Lead”, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to two fantastic and powerful women: Samira Eramdani with whom I am partnering in order to make the workshop in Morocco happen and Asma Nait Ouali, a young professional women who is acting as our project manager out of Marrakech.

Creating connections and providing for a platform for exchange, learning and personal growth truly is extremely rewarding and this workshop will certainly be only the first in a series of projects and programmes especially tailored to the needs of women to be rolled out in North Africa.

Leading Self and Others

… introducing Samira:

Samira Eramdani

“Being a woman in my country as in all others is not an easy job. Women have a heavy load to carry. They are asked to be perfect in conducting their career, educating their children and handling delicate family matters. How this is done is basically left to intuition.

I personally believe that women deserve to have support and training, be able to take advantage from mentoring programmes as well as to build and participate in networks. Most importantly: women should be celebrated. I thought about this programme as a way to begin this journey in order to advocate for the cause of women by providing the core principles of leadership. I have been fortunate enough to learn myself about what it takes to become a good leader, how to organise yourself and how to stay true to your purpose in life. It’s the first step. Many others will follow! “

…. and Asma:

Asma Nait Ouali

“Having graduated with a higher diploma in networking and telecommunications a couple of years ago, I started as a young engineer in management and marketing. Now, I am working as a professional project manager while studying as a part-time student in an MBA programme. In the meantime, I am managing my family’s business, the main activity being the supply of building materials.

Over and above all that, I assume many responsibilities as the eldest daughter of the family and take good care of all my family’s affairs on a daily basis. Thanks to my humble experience, I have been able to gain some skills particularly in leadership that I would very much appreciate sharing with like-minded women peers and professionals.

I believe that there are numerous Moroccan women like me, who are willing to fill different tasks and achieve perfection in as much their professional as personal lives.

Our workshop entitled “Empowering women to lead” was implemented to mainly serve this purpose: to assist professional women in their projects by enabling them to develop multiple leadership skills that, by the same token, may help them succeed in their personal life.”

 

From my side, I am very much looking forward to this collaboration and to our first common project. Let me finish by saying: “You are the architect of Your Own Life!

Click here to read a great article on women in management just published in Switzerland (in French).

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Mindful Leadership & intercultural Communications

The Gift of Mindfulness

Happy Holiday Season

Happy Holiday Season

As Christmas is approaching and instead of rushing to the shops to find a last minute gift, why not giving mindfulness to somebody you love….?

Let me share how I came to work with and practice mindfulness:

At one point in my life, when children came into the family, my personal time became suddenly very scarce as I also continued to work full-time in positions with high responsibility involving international travel and dealing with everything else alongside. Up to that point, I had been able to manage my work-life balance quite well but suddenly without me noticing it, it changed. I did not take enough time out with and for myself anymore. This led to a heavy gall bladder incident in early 2009 where I was told that I was on the edge of burnout and that I had to stop running around.

I then saw an article about mindfulness and thought that it was very much in line with what and who I am. I decided to take up the challenge and found a MBSR teacher close to where I live and with whom I wanted to take up the journey. I actually gave it a try not knowing exactly what it was.

As a matter of fact, in a couple of weeks I rediscovered myself and wondered how I could have possibly been forgetting to take care of myself all this time. I began reading many books about mindfulness and at the same time engaged a lot in intercultural communications (which in fact is my specialization) attending courses etc. I discovered that mindfulness and the qualities of being open, non-judgmental, trusting etc. were exactly the same as what we would strive for when reaching higher levels of intercultural competence. This link (being myself a senior communications professional) struck my interest as well as the link to leadership.

freeimages.co.uk christmas images

Image Source: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

It is no surprise that I then fell on literature from Daniel Goleman and others writing about emotional intelligence as well from Otto Scharmer with his theory U. I suddenly found enormous pleasure at not only reading through all the literature on neuroscience, brain, leadership and interpersonal/intercultural communications I could get, but also deepening my own practice.

I attended many silence retreats and found them extremely nourishing and also kept looking forward every day to my own home practice. I began living in the present moment and saw colours, smelled things that I had forgotten. I also began being different with my children, showing them more things and being more patient. I subsequently decided to broaden my horizon by learning mindfulness for children, attending the training with mindfulschools.org in the US as well as with Eline Snel from the AMT in the Netherlands. I am now on my way to become a certified mindfulness for children teacher and am practicing with my own children as well as conducting interventions with other children privately for now. Training the leaders of tomorrow is wonderful!

Additionally, I took a  jump into the unknown and am now working with mindfulness in the workplace (designing programmes and workshops on mindful leadership for women for instance), coaching individuals using mindfulness techniques as well as integrating the mindfulness approach into my communications work, i.e. mindful listening training with teams, responding to emails mindfully etc.

Mindfulness has become the “umbrella” under which I offer my services and my state of being… I find it deeply rewarding and fulfilling to work with people, accompanying them on their path of finding themselves again (not to say becoming human again). It is like the discovery of something that has been lost for a long time.

I am also now working more in-depth on projects aiming at bringing mindfulness to the formal school education sector here in Switzerland. The effects of what the leadership theory calls VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) can be strongly felt here too. Everything is in disruption, people are running around without liking what they do, feeling insecure and unhappy with less time every month.

I am now following my gut feeling and my inner guidance and although it is not easy, I feel that I am at the right place at the right time.

So, now you know it all!

Here’s wishing you an excellent Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Thanks for being on this journey with me and looking forward to interacting and maybe seeing you again next year.

Jenny

Leading yourself

Jenny Ebermann Self-Leadership Services

… is not easy! In fact it is a major challenge and hurdle to many people. It starts by one simple thing: how many of you are able to look at yourselves in the mirror and give yourselves a virtual hug? It might seem simple but many of us did not grow up to like ourselves… there was always something missing or something not good enough.

In fact, we are our worst enemies as we continuously judge ourselves not seeing the little progresses we make but instead being stuck on all the things that could have been done better, different, more adequately….these things then keep coming back to our thoughts, moving along and influencing everything we do.

So here’s what to do:

  • First of all, start by seeing all the little positive things in your lives. Being present, moment by moment will help you.
  • Start writing down some objectives for yourself, these should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and could be linked to any aspect of your life (professional, private, yourself…)
  • Write action plans for every single objective, identifying all little steps towards the attainment of your goal/objective (I am happy to share a template with you would like to see one)
  • Check-in with yourself at a regular basis and write down all the things that you did well and achieved in line with your action plan. I am sure that there are many; your brain needs to see that!
  • Stop judging yourself at a continuous basis, rather begin seeing the hurdles and “failures” as opportunities to grow.
  • Try smiling at yourself and liking yourself (if you don’t already do so) every day a little bit more. You deserve all your attention! and finally, remember:
  • We are all “imperfect” and that’s what makes us human!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of the week! Jenny

Mindful Leadership and Women

Jenny Ebermann Leadership Women ServicesRecently I was asked to develop a Mindful Leadership Programme for women. You might ask why women need a specific program. Well, being a woman myself and having worked internationally in various industries for many years, I have to say that I very often needed specific skills and competences. Actually, many of the women I worked for and with did so too.

Be it self-confidence or resilience, the capacity to be patient and take a project to the very end, dealing with emotions in an appropriate way, learning to lead using emotional intelligence and empathy (and that it is completely ok to do so)… and much more.

As women, we also often wear various different hats, juggling between priorities, needs and tasks. Usually, we end up putting ourselves last on the list of people and things to take care of. Right?

But in fact, I am no “super woman” and I don’t have multiple pairs of hands and heads. Instead, I had to learn to listen to myself and to grow into the different roles life made me play. And actually, if I look around the world, I feel very grateful that I have had the chance to receive an education simply because I grew up where I did. Many other women did not get the same opportunity, unfortunately…

I hence decided to put up a Mindful Leadership program for women in form of modular workshops. Depending on the target audience and the respective backgrounds and experiences, self-awareness (management) and self-leadership, interpersonal and intercultural communications as well as presentation and relationship management will be accompanied by dialogue, learning and discussion groups. Stillness, inner reflection and other mindfulness based techniques will be woven into the program in order to allow for the best possible outcome for the participants.

Leadership is firstly about being able to lead yourself in whatever situation you might be in; secondly it is about leading others, unselfishly and compassionately so that goals can be reached together, in co-creation. By doing that, one “eye” always keeps looking at oneself, whereas the other is looking at the people in front as well as the organizations or structure as a whole.

Interested to learn more? I am just a click away…

Jenny