Sixteen Rules of Mindful Leadership
Every morning I face the “alarm clock test”; what will I use this gift of a day for? What impact or effect will I have on someone else's life story? At that moment, starting my day with those thoughts made me want nothing more than to be an architect of leadership. With that, a spark became reinvigorated in me.
Choosing to be a thoughtful, empathic, and mindful leader isn’t always easy, but there are rules and principles you can look towards to motivate yourself when you need them.
Here are my 16 rules of mindful leadership:
1. Fortitude does not howl; it does not clamor nor growl. Instead, fortitude is the hushed voice that plainly says to get up and try again tomorrow.
The courage to show up every day and do the best you can as a leader isn’t always a loud driving force. Being a good leader comes from within; you must start with yourself. Exhibiting the qualities of being a good leader, like self-discipline and motivation, is the first step to having the fortitude to treat every day as an opportunity.
2. The eruptions of possibilities mean growth.
When faced with endless possibilities and choices, whether in their professional or personal life, it’s important to remember that these decisions and paths mean that you’re growing and evolving.
3. Adversities and barriers lead you where you need to be.
There's a reason that interviewers ask the question, “describe a challenge you faced and how you overcame it.” Setbacks, failures, and challenges stimulate growth and aid in self-development, especially in that of a leader. Negatively perceived experiences often make one undergo a series of questioning, action, and resolution. Still, they teach you things about yourself and others that can only aid you in finding your right path.
4. Build people, and take the time to get to know your colleagues, including their personal and professional aspirations.
Your team members or direct reports aren’t just cogs in a machine to produce and fulfill the organization's expectations. Each person is a unique individual and deserves to be treated as such. In product management, each cross-functional team member plays a huge role in society's products. Their background, skills, and aspirations factor into the quality of their work. If people feel safe with an employer or team leader that cares about them, they’ll feel ready to put their best foot forward.
5. Inspiration can empower your team members to expand, flourish, and evolve a passion for their projects and how they perpetuate them.
Being an inspirational leader demonstrates an alignment of their work with the values of their team and organization, encouraging others around them to set ambitious goals and accomplish them seamlessly. In addition, it increases their engagement in their work and promotes a clear sense of purpose.
6. Be accountable to every single team member.
It’s impossible to create a high-performing team when there's a lack of accountability. Mindful leaders must take ownership of addressing issues, solving problems, and making decisions—a lack of accountability damages the team, no matter how small it might seem.
7. Build a coalition; you can accomplish things if you bring people with you on the journey.
The core of leadership is people. Building a coalition is a framework for engaging individuals and team members to achieve a common goal. Without people's help, motivation, and support, it’s hard to get anywhere. Likewise, it’s easier to accomplish your objectives with a group of empowered people.
8. Being empathic will help you identify with and relate to others to support, motivate, and empower them effectively.
Empathy for your team and their personal lives is critical to building trust. When employees know leaders will listen and consider their feelings and thoughts, even through criticism, their leaders can effectively empower them in their work to achieve the team's goals.
9. Always aspire for excellence and pull up those around you to succeed.
Striving for excellence is an approach, attitude, mindset, and desire to be your best. However, a great leader thinks about others and brings their team up with them.
10. Dissent and debate are how we enhance and make each other better.
Not only do disagreements and debates help you to develop essential critical thinking skills, but they also expose you to different perspectives and ideas that you may not have thought about otherwise. Additionally, particularly as a leader, it teaches you to listen and understand each other better.
11. Leadership is an endeavor in service. It’s an opportunity to serve your team as its leader.
Leadership is a service for those on your team. People will follow someone who consistently comes through and is willing to do the dirty work, fights for their team, and serve them the best they can.
12. Use your leadership voice to bring out change because other people use their voice to light the path for you.
As a leader, you have the unique responsibility to give direction, share information, and make important decisions for your team. Communicating your values to the team impacts how they view you as an effective leader. It’s also important to recognize the other people that paved the way for you.
13. Advocate for the disadvantaged and help them make the impossible possible.
Representation matters in the workplace. When leaders actively help and advocate for those social groups that are disadvantaged and marginalized, they actively empower everyone on their team.
14. Hire principled people.
Principled people have qualities like honesty, accountability, compassion, courage, fairness, gratitude, and loyalty, which are all important when creating a successful team.
15. Always say thank you.
Although underestimated, gratitude is a powerful leadership skill that can transform your team and even the whole organization. Showing gratitude in your everyday actions and life is important but becomes even more essential when leading a product team. Appreciation goes a long way.
16. Be humble and show humility.
Humbleness in leadership is the ability to consider others’ opinions, act with self-awareness, and lead from a spirit of benevolence. When a cross-functional team leader is humble and shows humility, it encourages the team to practice the same through their everyday communication.
Nighttime is when I pass the “mirror test.” When I look in the mirror at the end of my day, I am grateful to have sparked a difference in the world. Without a shadow of a doubt, I used my mindful leadership skills to change someone‘s life, whether a customer, a cross-functional partner, a direct report or even a random stranger when I run errands. I remember that I made a difference in the universe. My walk that day was purposeful, especially when I employed one of my mindful leadership rules.
While I am aware that there is no perfect solution to all the challenges I face day to day, I am filled with aspirations, ideas, and ideals without preeminence. I use optimism and inspiration to galvanize my team and leadership daily and am rewarded with a fantastic team that does the same.