Mindful Leadership Unleashes Unbelievable Group Outcomes
I was invited to speak at the 2018 IEDC Leadership Summit on mindfulness as a professional development topic.
Instead of speaking to how to implement mindfulness personally, I took it in a different direction. How can mindfulness, as a leader, help a group accomplish their purpose? What I’m talking about is not the confidence for public speaking. It’s about designing an effective meeting… paying attention… listening… mindful of the group’s needs to help them accomplish unbelievable group outcomes.
I find this interesting and challenging for me since what I am going to share is more than a skill; it is rooted in my deep, soulful beliefs of how to serve a group in their pursuit of synergistic success.
I have faith in groups. It is the responsibility of leaders to tap the potential of the group. Mindful leaders do that.
Here are eight tips for mindful leadership with groups:
- Include and unleash everyone. You never know where the next big idea will come from. It is especially valuable to involve those who are touched by the challenge that the group is trying to solve.
- Foster seriously-playful curiosity in a way that working together is both demanding and inviting. This is not simply a game. It is an intentional culture to spark exploration.
- Craft clear, thought-provoking question. Make a sincere effort to ponder the question you will present to the group. Ask for feedback on draft questions as you design your meeting.
- Then, give time for thought. In order to provide a safe and encouraging environment, give time to participants to think about the question. Even one quiet minute will make a difference. Some people don’t start talking until they have had time to think, while others think while talking. If you don’t give time for those who need to think, they will be left behind in the conversation—potentially even left out—and then you lose their ideas.
- Provide an environment for interaction. Is the room set up for people to talk to each other or do they all face the “leader”? Arrange chairs and open space to support one-on-one conversations and small groups where ideas can emerge and process into something even better.
- Is the room “buzzing”? By listening and observing the room, you can mindfully pay attention to the energy of the room. Are the participants invigorated and sharing robustly? Or are they thinking hard and trying to process? Or are they tired and need a break?
- Go to the next level. Ask another question, so the group goes deeper and further with their ideas, feedback, etc., to move from chatter to matter.
- Are you listening? Mindful leaders use the words of the group, because they really listen to what emerges from the group. By using their words, participants (and the group as a whole) feel heard, respected and honored.
The outcome… unbelievable ideas emerge, merge and synthesize for ownership by the group. Ownership primes for action... and much more.
Allison Larsen is principal of TadZo LLC and a Certified Economic Developer. With over 20 years of economic development experience and more than 10 years in international business management and sales, she serves businesses, economic developers, nonprofits and communities with unconventional approaches to engagement.
She believes her role is to ask insightful questions to explore what’s possible, what’s of greatest interest and, ultimately, what stakeholders find most important to commit resources for action. She employs well thought-out questions and astute listening to get to the core of issues and solutions. Her extensive experience with business leaders, community stakeholders and hard-working professionals contributes to her recognition of what is true excitement and commitment, enabling her to facilitate positive change for clients.
Allison’s core competencies include community competitiveness assessments, site selection screening, action-oriented strategic planning, target industry analysis, talent strategies, marketing, graphic facilitation; and liberating structures for engagement.
Allison is a graduate of the University of California, Davis; the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute; and a Fellow of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.
Her company is named after her two dogs: Tadich and Enzo (a.k.a. TadZo).