These days there’s a lot of talk – and a lot of executive education – revolving around “design thinking”. Companies like Apple, Netflix, Facebook, and others are disrupting industries and business models left and right. With these developments comes the realization that traditional approaches to problem-solving are no longer enough. So, across industries around the world, attention is shifting to design thinking as an approach for unleashing creativity and innovation in organizations.
Often confused with pity, empathy might sound like a soft, fuzzy emotion that drains us of time and energy. Actually, it's quite the contrary -- it's an incredibly valuable tool for today's leaders. Brene Brown, a well-known sociologist and the author of "Daring Greatly," says empathy involves connecting with the emotion someone is experiencing, not the event or circumstance.
"It's simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting and communicating that incredibly healing message of 'You're not alone,'" Brown writes.
I knew my response in Haiti couldn't just be about the damage of the earthquake itself; it had to be about resonating with the feelings of hopelessness my team was experiencing. Empathy is useful not only in natural disasters but also in healing wounds associated with difficult business situations.
Leadership is not only a skill; it has become something of an industry. Everyone wants to be a good leader–whether at work, at home, or in social settings. Being a good leader means that your words will be respected, your ideas will be embraced, and you will be able to have a (hopefully) positive impact on other people’s lives. In the business world, strong leadership skills also translate into higher compensation. So, it’s no wonder that we all want to be better leaders. The real question is, “How do we go about doing so?” And that’s where the leadership “industry” comes in.
News stories and social media posts inundate us every day with tips for greater happiness, health, and general well-being. But who has the time to fit them into our already packed schedules? Recently, though, my research has led me to believe that one simple prescription can have transformative effects: look for more daily experiences of awe. This doesn’t require a trek to the mountains. What the science of awe is suggesting is that opportunities for awe surround us, and their benefits are profound.
Free will often seems like nothing more than a cruel illusion. We don't get to choose the times, places, and circumstances of our birth, nor do we have much control over the state of our states, regions, or nations.
As stated by Talmud, “We do not see things as they are; but as we are.” This doctrine from the eighth century speaks to our perceptions and questions our ability to understand people and situations accurately.
In a competitive and fluid corporate environment, executives make decisions based on their experiences and ability to navigate complex change situations. But many leaders fail to look through the lens of the opposing viewpoints and limit their decision quality by projecting only their own thoughts, insights and experiences into a situation without acknowledging alternative angles or beliefs. Strategic self-reflection can enable leaders to create a bridge between information and wisdom.
Over the last several decades, through my work with tens of thousands of clients and meditation students, I’ve come to see the pain of perceived deficiency as epidemic. It’s like we’re in a trance that causes us to see ourselves as unworthy. Yet, I have seen in my own life, and with countless others, that we can awaken from this trance through practicing mindfulness and self-compassion. We can come to trust the goodness and purity of our hearts.
In order to flower, self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with our own vulnerability. Compassion fully blossoms when we actively offer care to ourselves. To help people address feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, I often introduce mindfulness and compassion through a meditation I call the RAIN of Self-Compassion. The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness.
Harem management was a type of leadership that fostered a strong undercurrent of political influence. It is synonymous with the politicisation of some organisations, where various shadow individuals or groups compete fiercely for power. Harems were often directed behind the scenes by a sultan’s female relatives, particularly the all-powerful mother, known as the Valide Sultan. And then there were the eunuchs. They could be lowly servants, or rise to become third in command after the Sultan and the Grand Vizier; and often had the trust, and the ear, of the sultan.
Reflecting on his own predicament, Edward could see how his CEO obtained some benefits from this harem-oriented way of running Serail Corporation. Why should he get rid of a person if he or she had still some use? Why annoy them by taking them off the executive committee?
While the CEO paid lip service to the advantages of teamwork, he clearly preferred working with members bilaterally. They all liked to have a direct reporting relationship with their boss. By keeping the roles of the people reporting to him ambiguous, he was assured that the information he needed would flow up. In addition, by keeping his “harem” he had reserves at hand in case one of the harem members became fed up with the situation. In the meantime, everyone in the company would be at his beck and call, vying for his attention.
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