I attended a professional development session on mindful leadership this week. Having not really been across this before, I did find it covered some ideas that were not new, just labelled anew, and other ideas quite fresh. Adaptive leadership vs conventional leadership was really the initial focus of the seminar, and I found that I probably use a mix of both.
It started a myriad of thoughts, but instead of listing these I will focus on one activity we did. The activity involved two people, with one talking and the other listening. But the ‘listener’ was tasked with limiting reaction – no nods, no affirmations, no response. This was to give the speaker the ability to say what they needed to say, without interruption, for five minutes. Five minutes is actually a very long time to talk. It is an even longer time to listen without reaction.
My take, which was echoed by some others, was that it is very hard to talk to someone who is not responding. I actually want some sort of response that the person is engaged – not that they necessarily agree, just that they understand what I am saying. I also think this is not something to try with your staff unless you warn them first. If I tried this, even at home, without providing a heads up, I think the speaker would be thrown by the absence of my affirmations of understanding.
Overall I could see the worth, but found the connections ( made by the presenter) to yoga and Buddhism off putting. It made it sound, to me, very ‘warm and fuzzy’, which is not what I’m looking for when I think of leadership. But that was probably the presenter.
We did also ‘meditate’ briefly. The presenter lead that beautifully. So effective was her calming voice, I would like a copy to listen to before I go to sleep, to switch my brain off. I did try it myself last night – ‘focus on your big toe….’