Lead with Mindful Engagement

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A form of leadership for all circumstances.

I’ve always been the kind of person who continually looks for ways to improve. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research on leadership and how to implement more strategies to lead better. In my searches, I came across Sue Ashford from the University of Michigan, who has coined the term Mindful Engagement. It’s a form of leadership that we can all use in every area of our life.

Often leadership is talked about in business or in sports, rarely is it talked about in families, relationships, and in our own individual life. I believe in leading in as many areas of your life as possible, which is why I love this style of leadership. It is a process that can be applied anywhere. The process is simple and profound. It begins with your approach, then asks you to take certain actions, ask for feedback, and finally incorporate everything you learned. Continue that cycle and watch your life improve, your relationships get better, and more!

Mindful Engagement process is as follows:

Approach

The way you approach a situation, conversation, project, or anything, essentially changes what the outcome is. If you blindly act in your life, you may not get the most of out your actions. In Mindful Engagement, Ashford, suggests that we begin everything with a learning mindset. The more we are willing to learn from our experiences, the more we will actually learn. She also recommends we set learning goals. A learning goal is simply learning to be a better leader by learning or practicing the aspects of leadership and development, such as sharing more of your authentic self.

Action

The second step in the process is to take action and ask for feedback. Ashford notes that doing active experimentation is important. Active experimentation, to me, is a way to change your approach. If something isn’t working, change your approach, take an active measure and experiement with different options. Then you must seek feedback. If we’re unwilling to receive feedback we will always hold ourselves back as leaders. Be willing to receive feedback that doesn’t feel good. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get someone’s approval? So, what?! The best that could happen is that you learn about yourself and you use your new learning to help others, which is one true sign of a leader.

Reflection

The final step in the Mindful Engagement process is reflection. It’s when we examine the situation and learn the most from it. We look at the cause and effect, then figure out what lessons we learned and finally assimulate those lessons into our life. This is when our examination helps us to become better people.

While the process Ashford lays out may seem simple, it is by no means easy. It takes courage and relentless self examination. It takes being willing to be critiqued and staying humble. All things that you would expect from a great leader. Are you ready? I’m going to do my best and I hope you join me.

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