Consciously making courageous decisions with compassion
The only thing certain is that we are living in a time of uncertainty. Yet many organisations are failing to realise that their leaders must become resilient and learn to navigate disruption. This goes far beyond corporate wellness programs, which don’t work.
This new paradigm needs a new strategy for personal, team and organisational leadership. Traditional models of command and control through hierarchy no longer work for an agile and continually shifting environment.
In this environment, those leaders who consciously use their strengths to courageously take new steps are the ones whom organisations are choosing to work with. These leaders know how to use self-compassion to hold themselves and others accountable to drive innovative, not incremental, change.
Consciousness – change your mind, change your brain
Your brain is constantly making new connections, building new neural pathways and diminishing or reducing others. This is happening all the time without you consciously knowing it. What neuroscience has proven is that when faced with new challenges, if you use healthy forms of emotional regulation, your brain forms long-lasting neural pathways that support thriving.
The problem is that we are not consciously training our minds to change our brains.
Dr Richard Davidson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, has found different types of meditations grow particular parts of the brain. In particular, learning to make conscious decisions and changing your habitual thinking patterns has a physical impact on your brain; it changes your actions, behaviours and results.
So, what does this have to do with leaders experiencing disruption? Very simply, we need new ways of thinking to deal with the uncertain world that we are experiencing. By consciously acknowledging your thought patterns, and training your mind to recognise them more easily, you will be better equipped to manage stress, evaluate conflicting information and provide your team with clear direction during times of uncertainty.
Courage – the critical component of change
In order to change the results we get as leaders, we need to change our actions and our behaviours. Changing behaviour requires courage for a few reasons. Firstly, because trying something new is never easy and secondly, trying something new implies that it may work or it may fail. Whilst we can influence the inputs, we can’t control the outcome of trying new ways of being.
Many people mistakenly wait for confidence before they try a new behaviour or way of operating.
Confidence is an outcome of courage. You can have courage without confidence but I have never experienced confidence without courage.
If you want to build confidence, learn how to be courageous in your decision making and observe the results.
Self-compassion is about fully experiencing and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings. By using mindfulness to observe their flow, you can insert a ‘pause’ between feeling and reaction.
Sarah, a client and senior executive, experienced the power of this ‘pause’. Whilst being incredibly successful, she hit significant roadblocks in reaching the most senior C-suite levels. In working with compassionate mindfulness, she realised that she held herself to an unachievable work performance standard. This negatively impacted her home life, placed significant physical and mental stress on her, which would manifest as frustration with her team.
By using self-compassion, she was able to hold herself accountable for her actions and take responsibility for making the change she wanted to achieve, without blame or shame. The more she let go of grasping to control outcomes and instead focused on building trust and collaboration, the more recognition she received for her leadership of the business and her team. She achieved the promotion she sought, not by changing what she did, but by changing how she led herself and her team.
The last 12 months has shown that we can’t predict or control the future. However, by consciously making courageous decisions with compassion, leaders are sure to build their resilience, increase their adaptability and make decisions in the present moment instead of worrying for the future.
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