Founder of The Right Thing, a strategic marketing communications consultancy.
Adaptability. Empathy. Centeredness. Resilience. These are just some of the skills that have helped many business leaders come out strong in the midst of a pandemic, as their companies gravitate to new industries and new business models. The practice of meditation and breathwork has aided them in keeping calm, having clarity of mind, sharing honest feedback with investors and making good decisions.
2020 threw a wrench in our professional and personal lives, shaking the status quo in the most unexpected ways. Yet it is challenging times that test our skills and leadership abilities. It is in the climate of uncertainty and instability that an entrepreneur or a senior leader learns the true value of grit.
As we move into 2021, here are four skills to embody. They are simple yet powerful.
Taking care of our mental health has gained manifold momentum. It is no longer a luxury but a necessity in keeping our inner energy clean, soft, sharp and balanced. Unless we gain mastery over our own mind, managing the world outside is a tall order. When leaders are able to handle their fear, frustration, anger and disappointment effectively, they are able to lead better and create harmony at work.
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The ability to regulate emotions helps in creating a strong workplace, virtually or in-person. Using techniques such as the breath-based SKY meditation to handle stress can also improve optimism. A new study at Yale evaluating the impact of several well-being programs showed that SKY Breath Meditation had the most benefits — improving social connection, mindfulness and positive emotion. But there are many other breath-based meditation options available.
Self-management also means that leaders strengthen their self-awareness and self-reflection, and improve upon their ability to make conscious choices in their daily lives. Taking time off to attend silence retreats and spending time in nature are some great ways to recharge and reset.
Praise Your Team
Praising team members and oneself is extremely important as it raises morale. Praising kindles the life force within — of the person who gets praised and who praises — creating an atmosphere of positivity. When team members feel acknowledged and appreciated, they are more productive.
Find a way to celebrate the hero within each team member. And do so generously.
Create Better ‘Belonging’
The need to “belong” is an inherent part of human behavior. When people feel they belong to a team, they connect better. As they achieve better connection, conflict reduces, trust increases and they are able to work cohesively to produce better results. A virtual workplace can create silos and disconnectedness, so in our current times, finding ways to strengthen the “belonging” muscle is a skill that all managers need.
Motivation is not adequate to push the mind. Individuals and teams are looking to be inspired. The former is an external stroke while the latter is an internal stroke. This can take the form of leaders articulating how the business tasks that their teams are performing are aligned to a higher brand purpose, or helping individuals align their work to their own purpose by giving them the necessary resources or more. At any rate, leaders have to go beyond pushing the external triggers for their teams to perform better. An inspired individual’s enthusiasm and energy will spread to everyone around them — and will have a longer-lasting impact.
When leaders embrace these skills, they are able to create a workplace that increases positive emotions and well-being, setting the stage for success. Harnessing our own inner energy and that of teams is crucial to engagement and growth. Moreover, a positive culture also acts as a buffer against negative experiences, thereby improving the team’s ability to be adapt, recalibrate and stay centered to handle any business challenges.