I’m pleased to share with you my latest article about leadership best practices. Because of the length of the material, I’ve created a series of three articles. Stay tuned for the next 2 articles that will come at the end of April and the beginning of May, 2012!
We know that the most highly effective leaders practice a high degree of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, observing both your own thoughts/feelings and what is going on around you. Mindfulness is important to leaders because they must be aware of both what’s going on inside them (their thoughts, reactions, emotions and moods) and what’s happening outside them in their teams, in their organizations, with their stakeholders and within the larger society. If leaders are unaware of any of these dynamics, they are not able to manage either themselves or their organizations.
How can a leader increase his mindfulness? The research strongly suggests that a daily practice of reflection, practicing quiet attention and regular exercise is one of the best ways to develop your personal and leadership effectiveness. It also helps you manage stress by scheduling brief “time outs” during a hectic day. At Brio Leadership, we suggest a formula called “15/15/15 plus three”. What that means is a daily practice of 15 minutes of reviewing and planning, 15 minutes of focused attention or quiet time and 15 minutes of aerobic exercise, plus three sessions a week of a creative pursuit. Let’s explore each of these.
Reviewing and planning
The first 15 minute segment is reviewing and planning: you review the previous day and plan for the coming day. We suggest that you use a journal for the review. Any notebook will do – sometimes I use an inexpensive wire-bound notebook, other times I buy a handsome journal with blank pages. In your review, think about your day’s activities, thoughts, reactions and feelings and note these two things:
The other 5 minutes are spent looking over your coming day with your calendar in order to set intentions for what you will accomplish. Think of the people you are going to see, the meetings you will attend, the customers you will call, and ask yourself the following questions:
Many of my clients set aside 15-20 minutes at the beginning of their day to review and plan. Your Outlook calendar might look like this:
Note the yellow time segments at the beginning of the work day. You could also set aside 30 minutes at the end of the day, or during your lunch hour. It’s best to pick a time and stick to it every day, so you develop a routine and train your co-workers to respect your private time.
I was once in a corporate office where I had the opportunity to see several employee’s Outlook calendars. They all had 30-minute recurring appointments with themselves each morning for planning. The company had sponsored their attendance at a time management seminar in which they were taught to set aside planning time. It was an accepted practice at this office to spend the first 30 minutes in planning. I strongly recommend making morning planning an accepted practice at your office.
In Part Two of this series, I’ll cover Focused Awareness.
From the desk of