The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! Leader beware, be VERY aware

August 5th, 2020
















What’s hot?     

Upheaval at home and work, the continual onslaught of change, and a pandemic provide the conditions for fear, social regression (a psychological condition enforced with quarantines and work at home orders) and the search for a savior (someone who can fix this mess). 

So what?          

During times like these, leaders can fall prey and unknowingly become an autocrat or narcissist who is continually reinforced by those who look up to the leader searching for surety, certainty and answers.

What to do?       

Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries* – a psychoanalyst who focuses on leadership – says self-reflection is key to providing the kind of leadership that makes the meaning for which people yearn.  To ensure that you operate with authenticity, a voice other than just your own and ultimately don’t take a turn to the dark side, he suggests focus on the five areas below combined with self-reflection.

To aid you in being aware, and self-aware, we have listed his five areas below along with soul-searching questions of ours.  Recommendation:  Do your work first before addressing the questions with your team.

  • Provide meaning and purpose – help people look forward
    • What does better look like? What can you look forward to once the current state improves?
    • What do your customers or constituents look to you for – what do you provide beyond the product or service – that gives you a sense of purpose or meaning? Why do you do what you do?
    • What does that purpose tell you about what you should be thinking and doing right now?
  • Provide a sense of belonging – meet people’s social needs (don’t allow your team or organization to “regress”)
    • What are you doing to stay connected and ensure you are a healthy leader, team, unit, organization?
    • What more do you need to do? What is unspoken about your current efforts, that if surfaced or said, would enable you to connect in more productive, effective, and satisfying ways? How can you get people to say what they are?
  • Highlight competence – where you, collectively, excel
    • With so much going on that is challenging right now, it’s easy to overlook those things that are working.  What are your strengths?  If people had to describe what you are good at, what would they say?
    • How are those strengths serving you, your customers, the organization and the greater good right now?
    • What more could you do to leverage those talents?
  • Give people control – let others have a voice
    • What do others believe you should be doing right now?
    • Who do you listen to? Whose counsel do you accept?  Who do you not listen to? Why?
    • How can you maximize the points of view that come your way?  What can you do to truly hear and understand (rather than critique or discount)? 
  • Transcend – go beyond self
    • If the current challenges did not exist and you were working not for the year, your goals or accomplishment of your current commitments….what should you be doing to serve the organization and its customers in ways that would make a long-standing difference (and be recognized 10-20 years from now)?


Need assistance building self-reflective leaders (one of our core competencies)? We would love to help. Contact us.

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