Lead From The Center To Inspire Others

How many outstanding leaders have you worked with?  I bet you can count them on one hand.  The truth is exceptional leaders are few and far between.  The lack of good leadership in our homes, communities, and institutions is a real problem.

Burning Out

I recently had lunch with a friend who was the CEO of one of the fastest growing mid-sized information technology companies in Northern Virginia.  The organization went through a significant period of growth - growing from 20 to 100 million dollars in revenue in just 5 years - and the company was acquired by a bigger corporation.

When I asked my friend what he was going to do next he shared that he was going to take some time off.  He explained that he was frustrated by the lack of leadership around him and he couldn't find the energy to get back into the game.  I was deeply disappointed because I knew how good of a leader he was.  He had a lot to offer.

But in the midst of all the strategic planning, team-building, business development, quality assuring, communicating, performance managing, partnering and revenue generating this leader burned out.  He ran out of steam and surrendered to the challenges that confront every leader.

 Leadership Challenges

Leadership is difficult.  Leading a company is harder.  Economic fluctuations, changing market demands, government regulations, and competition surround us.  New companies with lean business models are lurking, customer expectations are rising, and employees are disengaging as our culture changes right under our eyes.  Technology changes the way we communicate, connect, sell, market, and live.  On-demand is the new norm and millions of people have demands.  Patience is at an all time low and frustration is high.

Lead From The Center

It is important to find your center when you are surrounded by chaos.  When you lead from the center your spirit, mind, and body converge and exceptional leadership qualities emerge.  Lead from the center if you want to approach your life and work with a sustainable mindset. Lead from the center if you want to stand in the storm and feel stable while others feel shell shocked.  Sure leading from the center is hard work - it requires dedication and practice - but any leader can learn to do it.

Here are three steps you can take to get started:
  • Develop Your Spirit - Your spirit is the place where your passion comes from - that strong and barely controllable emotion that drives us to do what we do.   It is also the place that grounds us in what matters - the home of our values and deeper meaning.  Connecting with your spirit requires time, patience, work and commitment but it can be done.  Practices such as meditation, mindfulness, deep thinking, prayer, yoga, martial arts, worship and fellowship all help you develop your spirit.  When you develop your spirit you develop your ability to lead from the center and find peace within.
  • Develop Your Mind - Your mind is the home of your intellect - the place where our rational and intelligent thoughts come from.  It is also the place where we operate from most.  Develop your mind by reading, discussing, listening, researching, memorizing, or solving puzzles.  Edward De Bono's "Six Thinking Hats" book or www.luminosity.com are two great resources for leaders looking to work on this area.  Another is simply reading and writing.  What new information are you gaining and how are you sharing that information?  Blogging, journaling, speaking, and presenting are all practices that require intellect and develop your mind.  When you develop your mind you develop your ability to lead from the center and rely on your intellect.
  • Develop Your Body - Your body is your greatest asset - it is a gift that should be cared for and cherished.  But so many people neglect their bodies by eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle.  If you want to be a strong leader you must take care of and develop your body.  Develop your body by exercising, eating well, and being mindful of your physical presence.  You are only given one body so make the most of it.  When you develop your body you develop your ability to lead from the center and stand firmly in a world that wants to knock you over.

 Leading With Your Whole Self

When you lead from the center - harnessing your spirit, mind, and body - exceptional leadership capabilities emerge.  You sense deeply, think clearly, lead effectively, and overcome complexity.  You also inspire those around you by acting composed in difficult circumstances.

The key to leading from the center is to be mindful of your spirit, mind, and body when challenges arrive.  When you bring your whole self into the equation you see possibilities where others see struggle.  Just the simple act of finding your center increases resilience and grounds you in the present.  Leading from the center helps you serve as a role model to others when they loose hope in leadership.

Questions:

What one action will you take this week to develop your spirit, mind or body?  How can you turn that action into a daily practice and find ways to lead from the center?

[…] you want to lead effectively you need to be centered and mindful of the good things in life.  Evil surrounds us and tempts us daily.  Put your focus […]

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