India's Most Influential Business and Economy Magazine - A Planman Media Initiative 
 Search  
  Other Sections
  
  • Home
  
  •  Cover Story
  •  B&E This Fortnight
  •  B&E Indicators
  • BE Corporation
  • Finance
  • International Column
  • Interview
  • Overseas Talk
  • Policy
  • Politics
  • Scrutiny
  • Sector
  • Snapshot
  • Stratagem
  • Strategic Focus
  • Testimonial
 


Share |
Overseas Talk
 
Go to Page Number - 1   2   

Mindful leadership – When east meets west

Issue Date - 24/11/2011
 
In an exclusive B&E feature, Prof. William George, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, talks to sean silverthorne, editor-in-chief of hbs working knowledge, about how He looks to the East as a model for developing strong business leaders and how Leaders with low emotional intelligence (EQ), despite having a high IQ, often lack self-awareness and self-compassion, leading to a lack of self-regulation and loss of their very own jobs.

Prof. William George of Harvard Business School, an expert on leadership development, recently teamed with Tibetan Buddhist meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche to present a conference on “mindful leadership,” a secular process to explore the roles of self-awareness and self-compassion in developing strong and effective leaders. “To our knowledge, this is the first time that a Buddhist Rinpoche and a leadership professor have joined forces to explore this subject and see how Eastern teaching can inform our Western thinking about leadership and vice versa,” George says. For George, leaders who don’t develop self-awareness are subject to becoming seduced by external rewards, such as power, money, and recognition. They also have difficulty acknowledging mistakes, an Achilles’ heel that has crippled a number of CEOs who have appeared in the news recently. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: What is mindful leadership, and what are its benefits?
William George (WG): Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one’s reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.

Q: How does one become mindfully aware?
WG: I would not claim to be an expert in this area. Our Mindful Leadership seminar focused on the practice of meditation as one of those ways, with a variety of meditation techniques taught by Rinpoche. This was strictly a secular teaching, not a Buddhist one. In my experience I have observed that people become more mindful through prayer, introspective discussions, therapy, & the use of reflective techniques & exercises.

Q: You have said that few leaders lose their jobs because of lack of intelligence, but many do so because of lack of emotional intelligence. Can you talk about this a little more and cite a few examples?
WG: Leaders with low emotional intelligence (EQ) often lack self-awareness and self-compassion, which can lead to a lack of self-regulation. This also makes it very difficult for them to feel compassion and empathy for others. Thus, they struggle to establish sustainable, authentic relationships. Leaders who do not take time for introspection and reflection may be vulnerable to being seduced by external rewards, such as power, money, and recognition. Or they may feel a need to appear so perfect to others that they cannot admit vulnerabilities and acknowledge mistakes. Some of the recent difficulties of Hewlett-Packard, British Petroleum, CEOs of failed Wall Street firms, and dozens of leaders who failed in the post-Enron era are examples of this.

 
Q: The two essential aspects of effective leaders, you explain, are self-awareness and self-compassion. Could you please elaborate?
WG: An essential aspect of all effective leaders is authenticity; that is, being genuine and true to one’s beliefs, values, and principles that make up what we call someone’s True North. Authenticity is developed by becoming more self-aware and having compassion for oneself, without which it is very difficult to feel genuine compassion for others. Self-awareness starts with understanding one’s life story and the impact of one’s crucibles, and reflecting on how these contribute to motivations and behaviours. As people come to accept the less-favoured parts of themselves that they do not like or have rejected, as well as learning from failures and negative experiences, they gain compassion for themselves and authenticity in relating to the world around them.

Q: How does the work you are doing in this area align with your concept of “True North”?
WG: In our work on True North and in teaching authentic leadership development to students and seasoned leaders, we have learned that the greatest challenge to following one’s True North comes when the pressures and seductions are intense. That is when it is most crucial to be self-aware. This of course is not a new idea. Self-awareness is central to Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence. It is relatively rare to find people who are fully self-aware. Mindfulness is a logical step in this process of gaining self-awareness that should be combined with experiences in leading through challenging situations and gaining awareness through feedback and group support.

Q: I know you are a strong believer in group support in the development of leaders. Can you talk a bit about how group support differs from mentorship, for example?
WG: Mentorship is a one-to-one process with someone who has greater experience and is willing to share from that experience. Group support as practiced in True North Groups consists of a small number of peers (usually five to eight) willing to share themselves and their lives and support each other through both good and difficult times. A key element of these groups is learning to give and receive non-judgmental feedback in order to recognise blind spots, accept shortcomings, and gain the confidence to address great challenges in their lives.
          

Share |
 
Go to Page Number - 1   2        Next
 


      
Comments   
   
      
Leave your first comment

   


     Leave Comments to this story    
     
Name:  
Comments:  
Email id:  
City:  
 
 
Busines & Economy is also associated with :
©Copyright 2008, Planman Media Pvt. Ltd. An Arindam Chaudhuri Initiative. With Intellectual Support from IIPM & Malay Chaudhuri.