Mindful leadership or simply being human after all

Stairs with lightComing out of a Self Managing Leadership Training (SML) from the Oxford Leadership Academy, I feel very inspired. Indeed, the training provides for an excellent opportunity to look into oneself and start planning your own leadership development by looking at your past, future and most importantly present soft and hard skills. Navigating through inner values, strengths and weaknesses as well as purpose and vision finally allows to create a mindful action plan that will pave the way into new behaviors and reaching out for the highest and best.

Exactly as the “Heart of Effective Leadership Training” from Initiatives of Change (IofC) that I attended in September this year, storytelling, conversations and stillness play a major part in the structure of the training…

As you will all appreciate, leadership:

  • cannot be taught
  • comes from within depending on choices and context
  • is all about relationships you create with other people.

In fact, leadership is not for you (although it starts with yourself of course), it really is for the people you serve. And: if you have a strong sense of purpose, you will definitely attract people around you and inspire them!

Mindful leadership is definitely the way forward co-creating innovative spaces and creatively shaping the future, leading people onto new paths by simply teaching to look inside ourselves again and rediscover that we are human after all!

The Heart of Effective Leadership

CauxThis weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a “Heart of Effective Leadership” Training given by IofC (Initiatives of Change). Instead of speaking only to the brain, this training focuses on the human being at the center of everything. Change has to come from oneself, i.e. to be an effective leader, you have to tap your own inner source of wisdom.

Apart from amazing people and inspiring stories, I also enjoyed listening to Dr. Feena May from the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). According to her studies and research, the 5 capabilities that make leadership work are:

  • Presence – meaning being fully present, with all one has to offer
  • Relating to others
  • Sense-making – “How can I make sense of the information that I am receiving so that you can make something out of it”
  • Taking action
  • Service aspect – “Why am I willing to step into this leadership role?” (not to be mistaken with servant leadership); this aspect should always include others and not only ourselves, such as the community, the company, wider organization etc.

Finally, a key take-away for me, which might also be valuable for you, was a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a young Poet, 1903):

“(…) I would like to beg you (…) as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books, written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.

Perhaps then, some day in the future you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer”. – translated from German

Have a great week,


Mindfulness, Connection and Sustainable Change

Busy London streetI just came back from busy London where I had the pleasure of following a really interesting mindfulness workshop hosted by Initiatives of Change UK with Rohan Narse, Geoff McDonald, Global VP HR, Marketing & Communications, Sustainability at Unilever and Graham Watts, Global Director of Education & Training at the Hawn Foundation.

I must say that in the UK they really are already at the forefront of dealing with uncertainty, ambiguity, pressure etc. not only in the business world but also in education. Addressing strategies to become aware of what is happening within oneself as well as being able to effectively deal with emotions, anger, stress is truly not a soft factor anymore. On the contrary, it more and more becomes a ‘hard skill’ that one has to learn in order to ‘survive’ in our global environment.

The earlier these competences are learned, the better, as they will become part of a person’s life and routine. Mindfulness applied to various aspects of life as one of the techniques that can be used, in particular coupled with meditation (or call it quiet-time, stillness) not only sharpens the mind and is a must for focus and creativity; no! It also strengthens the immune system, enables you to deal differently with life’s up’s and down’s and most importantly: enables you to live every single moment fully, enjoying the sun on your skin and the smell of flowers in the air. You really feel alive and begin to ‘be’ instead of running and rushing through your life.

Today I want to invite you to find some quiet time for yourself; close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Simply be and look inside yourself. You will be surprised at what you will find!