Today, while practicing yoga, I was thinking what a great world of business we would create if the top executives of every company practiced yoga.
Current estimates suggest there are up to 20 million Yoga practitioners in the United States, yet in my travels, I haven’t come across too many top executives who admit to practicing yoga. Yoga has been rated as a highly beneficial practice on multiple levels of body, mind and spirit. I have been practicing yoga for the past five years, and given the many benefits I have experienced, I am convinced we could use more executive yogi’s in the business world.
Here is my vision of what yoga-practicing executives would inspire in their employees and businesses:
- Discipline to work at being our best selves and companies
- Positive intent and commitment to unlocking our full human and business potential
- Union with ourselves and each other; no silos; together we support each other’s evolution in a balanced way
- Rigor to work and grow; to find our optimum performance edge that working towards can be uncomfortable, but won’t hurt us or be more than we can handle and leads us to exceed our expectations of what is possible
- Individuality in self expression of the flow, that is also guided by a shared framework and goal within a community
- A “mindful state” where one recognizes distractions and attachments, acknowledges them and then returns to being fully present in the moment. Yogi’s turn off cell phones, lap tops, and thoughts about past and future and focus on RIGHT NOW and doing the best you can at that very task
- Calmness of mind that inspires confidence in times of change
- Clarity of mind and enables us to see things more clearly to inspire creative and strategic solutions to complex problems
- Emotional and physical strength to face difficult situations and people
- Stress management techniques for facing outdated habits, new challenges and other stressed out people or customers
Wow, just listing these benefits makes me want to get to the yoga studio. The funny thing is, yoga can be as simple as taking time to sit with your eyes closed and breathe deeply for 5-10 minutes. Clearly, if we are all breathing, we can all practice yoga no matter how busy – even executives.
What do you say?
Courageous leaders dare to go where others do not. They have the ability to forge new trails, face the unknown, and act decisively. It’s not that they don’t feel fear, but they are able to move past it, usually inspired by the potential to do something important for people. In today’s complex business world, most would argue that we need all the courageous leaders we can find right now.
That is unless you are the boss of a courageous leader and you are accountable for this leader’s results. Courageous leaders typically do not dwell on doubts about how things will turn out. That is what helps them be able to act so boldly. But the bosses job is to mitigate risk for the company and you aren’t sure your courageous leader even SEES risk.
Scariness factors: What if risks are under attended to or unmanaged and I end up looking responsible? What will top management think of my leadership when she is getting all the attention?
Or, what about working for a courageous leader and having to follow this leader into battle? Scary! Courageous leaders seek battles because they know that is where the action is to change, improve or start something. They can’t wage big battles alone so call in their team. If you are on this team, and the initiative you are working on is big, bold and different, it is guaranteed your comfort zones will be pushed and fear will rise up.
Scariness factors: Who will protect me if this project goes bad? What happens to my bonus or performance rating if I can’t do my part? Why do I feel like I am going to walk off a cliff?
Courageous leaders I work with face these scenarios routinely. The successful ones realize they evoke fear all around them and put strategies in place to manage this. Those who struggle forget to do this and often find themselves in trouble with upper management, dealing with under performing team members, alienating colleagues and numerous other derailers.
What are you doing to manage being so scary?
As an Executive Coach, I am not able to reveal information about my clients. So this reference has names changed to protect their confidentiality…………
I was recently reminded how important face to face interaction is with people you work with. That sounds pretty basic, but in our virtual and global world, it seems like a luxury any more.
My executive client was visited by his CEO this week, who is headquartered in Europe. Past conversations with this CEO were nothing like what I experienced him to be like in person. What seemed like an off-putting style is really warm and engaging. Email and phone conversations, and not many of either, had formed an impression that this CEO was really a hard-edged, cold person – far from the personable and down to earth person he showed me yesterday.
I KNOW my attitude towards this CEO influenced some of my coaching perspective and if we had not met, likely to a detriment to my client. I can only imagine what he thought about me before meeting me!
Moral of the story – don’t let virtual perceptions be your only information about someone you must work with. Strive for in-person encounters as soon as you can in the relationship. It will pay dividends later!