BECOMING A FULLY INTELLIGENT LEADER PART III … knowing versus being

In Part II, I re-presented Chad Meng Tan’s poignant questions “What if people can use contemplative practices to help them succeed in life and at work? In other words, what if contemplative practices can be made beneficial both to people’s careers and to business bottom lines?”

I also suggested that despite well documented research findings, “Perhaps business leaders are not yet convinced that the implementation of contemplative practice in their organisations will in fact be beneficial both to people’s careers and moreso to business bottom lines. Perhaps there is discomfort at the near relationship between mindful practices, spirituality and ethics. Perhaps the continued reference to Emotional Intelligence competencies as “soft skills” versus “power tools” compels a vision of an organisation with “nice people” and “low profits”. 

As leaders, observing the patterns in our individual and collective conversations when either Emotional Intelligence or Mindful Practices are raised in the context of business, can provide tremendous insight into why the “Inner Peace” that Hess and Tan suggest as critical in a VUCA world has been elusive to many. We can deepen the introspection by asking ourselves “why do I avoid or resist practices that can improve my relationships with others? What are my fears and anxieties around these practices? What do they stem from?”

Bob Rosen identifies the need for us to step out from behind our fears and anxieties and step into our Higher Purpose. “ By planting seeds that ground yourself, you strengthen the roots that protect you from the winds of change. These are our roots for conscious living: how you live (physical), how you feel (emotional), how you think (intellectual), how you interact (social), how you perform (vocational), and how you see the world (spiritual).”

In Josh Bershin’s article “Let’s Stop Talking About Soft Skills: They’re Power Skills”, he notes Hard Skills are soft (they change all the time, are constantly being obsoleted, and are relatively easy to learn), and Soft Skills are hard (they are difficult to build, critical, and take extreme effort to obtain). He references recently completed IBM Research that reveals that Executives identify behavioural skills as the most critical requirement for members of the workforce. 

The successful responses of nations to COVID (and by extension future VUCA challenges), were informed by science and in the main, a behavioural response, led by individuals who demonstrated Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual Intelligent.

  •  Physical – our bodies communicate with us on our state of wellness, decisions we make on issues and people
  • Intellectual – acknowledging the need for hyperlearning
  • Emotional – awareness, understanding and management of emotions to build relationships
  • Spiritual – consistently making compassionate and wise decisions, being an effective change agent

The starting point for the ongoing development and expression of any of these intelligences is a PAUSE. A pause during which we become fully present to and mindful of what is, then make prudent choices on the course of action required to enable the highest levels of organizational — human cognitive, emotional, and behavioral performance.

Practitioners recommend meditation (an intentional pause) twice daily, for 20 to 30 minutes. My recommendation is that in the first instant, leaders take a Time Out. A Time Out to pause and surface:

  • what they know of and their assumptions on the intelligences,
  • their thought and behaviour patterns around the intelligences

 that delay their adoption of practices that facilitate the full use of their intelligences. 

This awakening may well be the impetus for the needed transformation of their mindsets and the adoption of new behaviours. Then they can acknowledge and appreciate that the ability to lead their organisations through VUCA times is highly dependent on their Inner Peace, a state attained as they embrace and apply “power tools” and “spirituality” in the workplace.

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