Event Date: 11/07/2018 (2:00 pm EST - 3:00 pm EST)
Sarah: Welcome to today’s webinar hosted by HRDQU and presented by Rashim Mogha. My name is Sarah, I will moderate the webinar today. It will be about an hour and if you have any questions, you can go ahead and type them into that question box. We’ll be answering these questions as they come in live at the end of the presentation or in email if we do run out of time. And also note that handouts are being provided, they are located in the handouts dashboard in your go to webinar dashboard.
Sarah: Welcome Rashim and thank you so much for joining us today.
Rashim: Thank you Sarah. Hi everybody. Hello and welcome to today’s webcast on making of a mindful leader. Very thankful for you taking out this time out of your busy schedule to talk about mindfulness and how we can bring mindfulness into leadership. My name is Rashim Mogha and I’ll be your guide today as we go through the steps of being a mindful leader.
Rashim: Even before we get into that, why do we at all need to bring mindfulness into our leadership style? And if you really look at it, studies actually show that organizations and companies support 18% of lower productivity because of disengaged employees. One of the key reasons for this disengagement is because we are in a constant state of partial attentiveness. If we as leaders can actually change that, if we can bring out teams and help our teams to be more attentive, we can be mindful and we can bring focus and clarity into the moment. That will help our teams to be more engaged and we can positively influence employee engagement and organizational productivity.
Rashim: There also have been research around do I need to be a mindful leader to be able to influence that change? Or does my entire team need to practice mindfulness and all individuals need to practice mindfulness to be more effective. There’s data that shows that actually even if your teams are not mindful to begin with, and if you as leaders practice mindfulness, you can still influence your teams and your organizations in a positive way and bring up employee engagement.
Rashim: Essentially, being a mindful leader is a two step process. First, to be a mindful individual and then bringing in those aspects of mindfulness into your leadership style.
Rashim: Let’s get started. I would actually go back and … just out of the way, getting the resources out of the way. Here are some resources that you can use. That is my website where I post a lot of this content. There’s Fast-Track your Leadership Career, a book that I wrote which is an Amazon bestseller released on 28th of September. There is specifically a chapter on mindful leadership that you would enjoy. The leadership affirmations, detox affirmations, gratitude affirmations, money affirmations and the holiday kindness affirmations. These are all pre skills that I created for my audience and they ar available on Alexa. I will walk you through the process of how to enable them for yourself and use them even if you do not have an Alexa device. You can use it out of your iPhone. And then there is a YouTube channel that I have to get more resources. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Rashim: Now that we have that out of the way, in today’s session we are going to talk about the benefits of being a mindful leader. We will learn how to meditate, we will do actually a hands on exercise on that. And then finding ways to detox and creating a strategy to essentially invest in yourself and identifying and practicing the virtues of mindful leadership.
Rashim: Being a mindful leader as I mentioned is a two step process. We are first going to work on how you can become mindful by learning to meditate, detoxing and learning to invest in yourself. And then once we have identified how you can be mindful, we are going to move on to identifying and practicing the virtues of mindful leadership that will help you influence your coworkers and your organization.
Rashim: What is mindfulness? There are various definitions of mindfulness but the underlying message is that of being aware or being present. Mindfulness essentially when mind is fully attending to what is happening in the moment. And in today’s world, our lives move at a very fast pace. We pride ourselves in being able to multitask. But the reality is that we live in a continuous state of partial attention. Being mindful actually allows us to be present in the moment. To be able to focus on the moment. It moves us from that state of partial attention to the state of complete attention which essentially helps us focus on the present better, think clearly without judgment, and come up with ideas that actually help us and our organizations grow and be successful.
Rashim: Mindful leadership is all about applying that concept of mindfulness into leadership. If you look at it, all the attributes that define leadership can be put into majorly five pillars of leadership which is focus, clarity, creativity, compassion and optimism.
Rashim: Focus is all about being able to focus on the present. Being in the moment and actually being able to pay 100% attention to the moment. How many of us when we are on a conference call are skimming through our email and getting rid of some of the stuff, some of the emails that are not valuable to us. Or even when we are having conversations or one on ones with our team members, we have things that we are thinking in the back of our mind. If we could eliminate that and if we could focus in the moment, we’ll be able to devote 100% attention to the problem at hand or the task at hand.
Rashim: Clarity is all about being able to see what is really there rather than what we want to see. Not going into meetings, into conversations responding to emails with a mindset and being able to actually have that clarity in terms of being able to identify what the real problem is and how to find a solution around that.
Rashim: Creativity is all about being able to find the mind space to be able to use your creative brain. I would like to highlight over here, in most of my career … I started practicing mindfulness two years ago. And before that, I would just run from one meeting to another without even sometimes having a five minute break to use the restroom or get some water. What was happening during that time was that I was so busy clearing my to do list or working on the operations piece or running from one meeting to another that I rarely got time to use my creative brain. Our creative brain and our operational brain are two different parts in the brain. When you do give an opportunity for your creative brain, you’re basically missing out an opportunity to look at problems and find creative solutions.
Rashim: The compassion piece. This is I think the most critical aspect of mindful leadership. Because when you are compassionate, when you are able to connect with yourself and others to skillfully guide them, to initiate change, to collaborate, to be respectful. You can build in that environment where it’s a win-win situation for everybody.
Rashim: Optimism is all about being able to look at the situations positively. It’s actually proven that optimism has a direct correlation with success. When you think positive, you attract positive energy and using that power of positivity, you can actually chart your success plan and recipe for happiness. Positive thinking is a choice and you can actually train your brain to think positive. It’s also a trial and error process and different things work for different people since happiness does not come naturally to human beings. That’s another aspect to it.
Rashim: Talking about the benefits of mindful leadership and building up on the discussion that we had earlier, essentially it helps us with improved focus, improved EQ to be able to lead our teams better and interact with our stakeholders better. Improve resilience to be able to deal with stressful work conditions and then also improved productivity.
Rashim: As we talked about earlier, mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and to be able to experience the moment without being judgmental. Meditation is actually one of the techniques that you can use to practice being present in the moment. Our world is constantly changing at a very fast pace. To lead in this constantly changing environment we essentially need to train our brain and to harness all the mental power that we as leaders have to create an ecosystem that’s good for us, for our organizations and for our community.
Rashim: Meditation is not something that you can excel in on day one so you have to be patient in the process. It’s also all about practicing. When I talk about meditation there are many people who come back to me and say well I’ve tried it and it really doesn’t work for me because I’m not able to focus. Today we are actually going to practice it in a one minute forum and see how it works for all. Then I’ll give you some practical pointers on how it can work better for you.
Rashim: Meditation if you look at it, there are two aspects to it. There is posture and there is process. The posture that I prefer is actually being seated in the chair. The key thing to it is the legs. Legs should be shoulder width apart. Feet should actually rest on the ground because you are trying to provide yourself with a comfortable environment where you can totally focus on what you want to focus on rather than being uncomfortable while you are sitting. Shoulders should be relaxed, your spine should be straight and head slightly tiled looking forward with a downward glance. I just prefer that because it just helps me focus on the nothingness if you will. Eyes can be opened or closed, whatever works for you.
Rashim: One thing that has really helped me focus better when I meditate is being able to have my mouth relaxed and slightly open. That way I don’t clench my teeth or jaw. And then hands with palms resting down on the thighs. How about we try this as a one minute mediation exercise. Let me know in the chat window please if you are wiling and you would like to practice this one minute meditation.
Rashim: Okay, all you can use the hand icon over here to raise your hands. Okay, we will give it a try now. Sarah, can I please request you to keep the timer for us on this one?
Rashim: Okay, we are going to give it a try. Please put yourself in a comfortable position and focus your attention on your breath. If you could and if you would, walk with me on this meditation process. Make sure that you bring your attention and your focus and your thoughts towards yourself and your breath. And if at this time you find that your jaws are clenching, just open your mouth a little bit so that you can release that pressure off.
Rashim: Now take a deep breath and if your thoughts have wavered, bring it back again to your …
Rashim: And again bring your thoughts back to yourself at this point in time.
Sarah: Okay, Rashim that was a minute.
Rashim: That was a minute. How did everybody feel about that? Were you able to focus your attention and your thoughts?
Rashim: Okay, I will monitor the chat later one to see if there are any comments in there. A good way to do it is basically … sometimes people have difficulty focusing on the breath. A good idea is to sound of a second hand of a clock, wall clock. A raisin in your mouth and just focus on that raisin. My kids like to actually do it with M&Ms. They put a piece of M&Ms in their mouth and they slowly discover the sugar layer melting and then the chocolate layer coming in. By the time they reach the peanut, if it’s peanut M&Ms, that one minute is over.
Rashim: Essentially two things to remember over here. It’s natural for our attention to drift. The success factor over there is to be able to identify when your thoughts have wavered and bring that attention back to whatever object you are focusing on. Two good tools that I use, head space and calm. Both of them have some pre-functionality in there that help you to mediate. Next time when you’re trying to meditate, I’ll definitely say give it a try.
Rashim: Another aspect to it is detoxing. We talk about detoxing in terms of detoxing your body and detoxing your mind. We all have an overworked, over-scheduled and overwhelmed lifestyle. To be able to focus, to be able to be creative and have that clarity of thought, it’s really important that we remove all the distractions and we detox ourselves periodically. The best way to detox is to stop putting toxic thoughts into our body and toxic things into our mind. But, that’s not an ideal situation so detox then becomes important.
Rashim: Eat healthy. Drinking minimum eight glasses of water every day is one of the best things that helps me detox and purify my body in a natural way. That’s what I can suggest to you. Eating clean unprocessed food. I’ve realized that food preps on weekends with my kids actually are a great way for me to bring mindfulness into the activities that I do. It helps me de-stress and I find it therapeutic. Using herbs in my food has helped me. And then sweating it out. A great way to detox your body is to work out. It can be walks, it can be jogs or yoga or cardio or Pilates. Just dancing. Sweat helps us eliminate toxins from our body.
Rashim: And then cleaning clutter because studies actually show that cleaning clutter is therapeutic. Making space and organizing your physical space, it helps you expand your mental space. Cleaning clutter in your house, in your pantry. Also I’m talking about digital clutter over here. Unwanted emails from your mailbox. Old unwanted documents from your computers. Decluttering your schedule and calendar, everything counts.
Rashim: The best remedy of it all. Sleep. Making sure that you get a good night’s sleep. It’s not just about the number of hours that you’re sleeping but also about how much deep sleep are you getting. One thing that has helped me is trying to set a sleeping routine. I manage a global team. With global team, there is always emails coming in at nighttime and there is happening in Asia when we here in United States are getting ready to sleep. What I realized was although I was in the bed for eight hours, I wasn’t really sleeping and I was worrying about all the activities that were happening in different regions. There’ll be summits going on, there’ll be events going on. Although my team was there to manage it all, I would still feel that I had to keep on top of those emails.
Rashim: Here is what worked for me. I started setting a sleeping schedule and a sleeping routine for myself. I make a to do list on what’s on my mind. Basically I start doing it one hour before I go to bed. Essentially what I do is, that is a way for me to offload all my thoughts on paper and it takes my mind away from it. I know that I have it written, I don’t have to constantly worry about it. And tomorrow morning when I wake up, I can take care of it.
Rashim: Having a set sleep time is also very important. Everyone has an optimal sleep time window. My is between 10 to 11PM. And if I miss this window, I find it very hard for myself to fall asleep. If I’m not traveling I try to keep to that schedule. And then starting to wind down at least one hour before my sleep. Putting my phone on silent, dimming the lights and using a meditation technique. I also like to do gratitude affirmations before I go to bed. I’ve realized that artificial light from the screens actually increases the alertness and suppresses sleep. It negatively affects my sleeping pattern. That’s what I do. For all those that are on iPhones, I know that the new version of IOS that they launched they also have limiting screen time feature which I have been using very successfully and it has actually helped me with both my sleeping patterns as well as just reducing the time on the screen.
Rashim: Mind detox. When we talk about mental detox, we talk about emotional detox and we talk about all the aspects to it. As we discussed, compassion is the pillar of mindful leadership. To be compassionate, we have to be in tune with our emotions. We are social beings which means that whenever we are interacting with other people, emotions are always at play. And not all interactions are positive. The negative emotions that we hold onto can lead to stress and chronic diseases. That’s why it is important to do emotional detox. Especially when you manage large teams, when you are working cross-culturally. Sometimes those negative emotions can actually reflect in your emails, in your conversations with your team members. The idea is to be able to handle that and to be able to do an emotional detox.
Rashim: It is important to acknowledge your emotions. I am not the person who likes to brush it off. That’s my advice to everybody, don’t brush it off. But acknowledge them and then find a way to let it go. Different people have different ways to let it go. What works for me is to write down about the situation and how I felt about it and if I did anything to address it. Most of the times as I’ve been writing it down, I realized that maybe that hurt that I feel, the negative emotions that I feel were not too big. I also try to surround myself with positive people and stay away from negative energy if you will.
Rashim: Another aspect to it is digital detox. As I mentioned we are globally connected than ever before. But life in this digital age is far from ideal. 61% of an average American spends more than half of their waking up life staring at a screen. The negative psychological social and cultural impact because of it is real. Here is what works for me for digital detox. I disabled all my push notifications so I do not have push notifications enabled for any of the apps on my phone. I schedule a time on my calendar to basically check my phone and emails. What that does is I’m constantly not staring at the screen. I also try to step away from my laptop if I’m having phone conversations or meetings where I do not need my laptop. Sometimes I leave just my phone at home or put it in airplane mode while I’m working out, while I’m having dinner. While I’m meditating. While I’m having important conversations with my team members and that helps me focus in the moment and be able to give them 100% attention. It also helps me manage my mental detox process.
Rashim: The next one is meditate and we went through the meditation exercise. That’s what I frequently do. I do it about three times in a day. Morning is five minutes and the others are one to two minutes depending on the time that I have.
Rashim: The next one is really important and something that I really pay attention to. That is doing nothing time. I essentially try to carve out 10 minutes in my daily schedule when I do nothing. What I mean by doing nothing is step away from my laptop, step away from my phone and just be out there in nature. That is a great way for me actually to be able to focus on and give time to my creative brain. When I say doing nothing it doesn’t mean that your brain is not working. Your brain is constantly creating ideas but because there is this operational aspect of things, responding to emails, being on phone calls, responding to a Facebook message or a LinkedIn message, essentially what happens is that your creative brain is not getting time to generate new ideas. That doing nothing time helps you do that. You will be surprised. I am surprised how many great ideas come to my mind during those 10 minutes of doing things differently. More creative avenues.
Rashim: I lead a training and enablement organization in the product management group for Crowd Computing. Newer ways to enable our customers, newer ways where we can find value propositions for our customer. Most of the good ideas actually come during that doing nothing time.
Rashim: Tools. Detox affirmations. It’s an Alexa skills. As I mentioned they are the steps that I think Sarah posted on chat. It’s a two step process. You basically go to your app store for your phone, download the Alexa app and put in your Amazon username and password and enable the detox affirmation skill. It’s available for free. I do it once a day in the morning and I’m prepared for the day. It takes me less than five seconds to listen to a detox affirmation then I’m good to go. It basically sets your mind and your body in the right way [inaudible 00:26:28]. I started using it and then I shared this with my team and now my team actually uses it on daily basis. I also have an instructor at Amazon Web Services who actually puts up the detox and leadership affirmations at the start of every day before he starts his class so that everybody in the class can be in a good mindset and good mind frame before they start learning the objectives for the day.
Rashim: Then we talk about investing in ourselves. Compassion being one of the key pillars of mindful leadership. Compassion starts with self. Showing kindness to yourself. Often in the list of people that we need to take care of, our name ends up at the bottom of that list which is the exact opposition really of what we should be doing. This is what I realized about two years ago. I started making sure to find ways of taking care of myself by eating healthy, detoxing, exercising and taking time for myself to heal both physically and emotionally.
Rashim: In my mentoring sessions I often ask people what success means to them. It actually surprises me when people say I’ll be happy when I’ll be successful but really do not know what success means to them. I didn’t know it myself for the longest time. We keep postponing our happiness and our opportunity to enjoy our present, to achieve some form of success in the future that we really don’t know about. We don’t really have that definition of success. We also often in the corporate environment tie our success to a pay package or to a job title. I actually spend about 30 minutes to one hour everyday learning new skills or reading about topics of interest. For me, it helps me discover new tools that help me move closer to my goal.
Rashim: When I talk about learning new skills, it doesn’t really have to be a job related skill as well. I know one of my friends who is the country manager for a leading cloud computing company in Japan. Actually found passion in organic agriculture and she spends her time and the way she invests her time is learning how to do strawberry farming. That’s what she’s focusing on right now. I was looking for the right word over there. But how to farm for strawberries or how to grow strawberries organically. Find what success means to you, identify what it means to you and then actually it will help you move closer to your goals and you will also identify how you want to invest in yourself.
Rashim: Now that we have figured out how do we actually focus on being mindful ourselves, let’s focus on virtues of mindful leadership and how we as leaders can cultivate mindfulness. We as leaders can cultivate mindfulness by practicing empathy, by having a clear vision, by creating smart goals. By assuming positive intent, by practicing a purposeful pause. Maintaining balance and being in congruence with our values and our organizational values. And learning and staying curious. If we as leaders embody mindful leadership then the impact on our organizations would be significant whether or not our teams are trained in mindfulness.
Rashim: If you have clear vision, if you understand what kind of ripple effects, how you talk to your team would have, then it would obviously make the conversations better. It will set a clear goal for your team and you’ll help them be successful and keep them more engaged in the work.
Rashim: A mindful leader is empathetic. This is important because typically empathy is seen not as a positive trait as we look at leadership from an organizational standpoint. But companies like Amazon and Oracle talk about customer obsession being one of their leadership principles. How do they practice that? By basically having a leadership team that’s empathetic to the customer needs. Being empathetic helps you understand your customers better. Not only do you have benefit with your own team and your own stakeholders in terms of being able to emotionally connect with them, but also it has a direct positive impact with your customers. It helps you to not only work with your teams better, but also work with your customers better to be able to see the customer’s perspective.
Rashim: How can you practice empathy? First and foremost show gratitude. We are all busy and our personal and professional lives actually pull us in different directions everyday. And very often we forget to thank people around us for a job well done. We take their efforts. I see this happening more nowadays. Thank you emails are saved for holiday times or for performance review. I would really urge you to be genuine in showing gratitude to your team, to your customers, to your stakeholders. Ever notice you work crazy hours to meet a crazy timeline or go out of your way to help someone but you don’t get a thank you note or a proper thank your or acknowledgement. How does that make you feel? It makes me feel unappreciated and sometimes demotivated. As leaders what we can do is build this culture of gratitude within our teams and to be able to meaningfully thank people for their effort. Once you do it, you’ll notice that your team will weaves into this culture of appreciating each other, thanking each other and building that strong bond which is necessary for any team to be successful.
Rashim: As an individual you can also practice this by using gratitude affirmations. They are another skill that is available on Alexa. It is free for all to use and it’s available in all [inaudible 00:33:35]. Feel free to use this skill and share this skill with your teams.
Rashim: Another aspect is being respectful. Being respectful to your team, being respectful to your stakeholders. And by being respectful I don’t mean using polite words but also giving them the attention and the time that they need and listen to them. Early on as a leader when I would have one on ones, I would have my laptop open, I would have a list of things that I wanted to go through in one on ones and that’s what I would do. Now when I have one on ones with my team members, I actually close my laptop and it’s all about listening to what their views are, what their ideas are and how they are thinking about impacting the business. I have noticed that ever since I’ve started doing that, my interactions with my team have become more meaningful.
Rashim: Status is easy to get and action items are easy to get status on in emails. But that one on one time that you have with your team members is really important to connect with them. When we hire people, we hire really smart people and we hire them to think and to come up with ideas to impact the business in a positive way. When we do not give them that respect of acknowledging their ideas, listening to their ideas and genuinely being interested in their ideas, they get demotivated and then they get disengaged. And then they think that their job is just an operational job which is not what you want your team members to think. Every team member be it an individual contributor or a manager, a team manager who is reporting to you had brilliant ideas. We hired them for what we thought they could do. And then it’s our responsibility as their leaders to make sure that they get an opportunity to talk about their point of view, their ideas and take them forward if they work with the organization’s vision.
Rashim: Having a clear vision. As a leader it is extremely important to have a clear vision. When you think about vision, a vision is limitless and it knows no bounds or directions while goals has boundaries. It considers targets to achieve given some assumptions. Studies show that when employees are better engaged, when they are part of the vision, and they see the big picture with the leadership team, they actually perform better. How you can do that is … and this is what I like to do. As I mentioned, I lead an enablement team. There is a certification manager and there is a training manager and there is a reference manager under me. And then we talk about how we are going to lead our organization.
Rashim: In our quarterly meetings that we do, everybody brings in their own write up in terms of how do they want to influence and impact the organization. That way … and then they write those documents. It’s important that they feel that they have no constraints around it. I ask them to write those documents in such a manner assuming that there were no constraints. Don’t into the buts and ifs of things but really tell me what you would like to do and what’s your vision. And when we start doing that we realize that there are so many ways that we can impact the organization and how it aligns to the overall goals of the organizations.
Rashim: It’s important to reflect where you are in your present moment. It’s important to define what success means to you as an organization, and then know what you want and research yourself in your world or vision. In an ideal state, where would you want your team to be? What would your team be doing and how it’ll be impacting the customers for example. Or the business. And assume that there are no barriers. Barriers are easy to eliminate but when you think about constraints before you write your vision, then you are taking away that creative energy from your team.
Rashim: Now once you have your vision in place, the next step is to create goals and while creating goals make sure that they are smart goals. We are talking about specific and non ambiguous goals which are meaningful for everybody and they are action oriented which means your team can articulate goals into actionables. They are realistic. I know everybody talks about stretch goals nowadays and everybody talks about how we need to overachieve. But it’s important to be realistic when you set your goals for you team. Then time bond. It’s important. When do you want your goals to be achieved? This is something that we learn in various leadership classes as well but it’s an important part of being a mindful leader.
Rashim: And then assuming positive intent. We live in a volatile environment and corporate environment can be ambiguous at many times where there is no clarity. The organizations are happening frequently, there are layoffs happening, restructuring happening all the time. The speed of innovation just makes it even more harder. But when you talk to people, give people the benefit of doubt. Assume positive intent and assume that people are operating at their best. When you do it as a leader, when you walk into meetings with that mindset, what you are doing is you’re opening up the culture of trust to everybody. You operate from a place of trust rather than a place of mistrust.
Rashim: I talk to my team about this often because somebody who had a bad experience with a person or a negative email exchange which wasn’t that pleasant. When we walk into meetings, the team members might sometimes be apprehensive or say, well with this person we have to be really careful. If that ever happens, make business the focus rather than making people’s emotion the focus. Then it becomes really easy to navigate that.
Rashim: Practicing a purposeful pause. To be able to pause, to be able to respond before you react. As leader, that’s very, very important. To not be temperamental. To still have empathy, to have that emotional side but to not react. Early on when I started my career every email that landed in my mailbox I was tempted and I responded to it within 10 minutes. I have realized now having that experience of multiple leaders, that sometimes it’s important to take a pause. It’s important to be able to respond rather than to reacting to an email.
Rashim: Now, many a times there would be emails or phone conversations that would be happening where you’re just … in the heat of the moment you would say something and you will resent it later on. I have realized what helps me is not respond to the emails as they land into my mailbox. Obviously if it’s an urgent email and you have to provide some data, definitely do that. But if there is something in the email that’s upsetting you or the way you read it does not align well with the way you have been thinking, it’s okay to pause and to be able to say I’m going to respond to this email later on.
Rashim: When do you practice a purposeful pause? Before making a decision. Sometimes you are running from one meeting to another, one email to another. Your thoughts are cloudy, it’s all over the place. You have to make a big decision. Try to walk out for five minutes and then think about the decision that you’re going to make. Don’t do it in front of your laptop and definitely don’t do it when your mailbox is open because then the emails start coming in and your attention is divided.
Rashim: When you have a lot of work to do, it’s sometimes easy to take a purposeful pause and say, okay how am I going to deal with all this work today. And how am I going to help my team set the priorities for themselves and prioritize it for them so that they are not overloaded. When you feel that the stress is starting to build up, sometimes when I and my team are together, we just all decide that we will go for a quick walk. Or we will start a meeting with an affirmation. Initially it was like, why are we doing this? And now suddenly everybody looks forward to what is today’s affirmation going to look like and how we are going to … sometimes team members start finding out different spots to walk in the campus because they have identified a good spot to walk and they will say next team meeting, we are going to take a quick round around this spot before we start the meeting.
Rashim: [inaudible 00:43:36] brings everybody back in the mindset of being able to achieve something that we plan to achieve in our meeting.
Rashim: The next one is being congruent. Know your vision and your values both as a team and an individual acting in harmony with your vision and values. And then also finding a career that allows you to be congruent. For example for me, my entire career has been around customer enablement and I am extremely customer focused. Imagine if I was working in an organization that was all about business and not about customers. That would not have been in congruence with my values. I thought about it, sometimes when job opportunities come up and then I talk to people and I realize that maybe this organization is more business focused as opposed to customer focused and that doesn’t jive well with my values. And it’s not in congruence with my values so would I be happy working for that organization? Would I be able to sleep well at night thinking that I didn’t make a decision that was favorable for a customer.
Rashim: These are hard conversations but I think these are important conversations to be had because ultimately the goal is to be happy and to be able to make an impact in your organization and have it as a win-win situation. As leaders also we have to help our teams navigate through that. What are their values and are they in congruence with what we are doing. As a leader, are we walking the talk? Be congruent. It’s important to know your values, it’s important to know what team members stand for and then lead the way.
Rashim: Learn and stay curious. Another important aspect and kind of duck tails into investing in yourself. As leaders, we need to ensure that our teams understand the value of learning and staying curious. I work in cloud computing industry and the innovation that happens everyday in that industry is huge. As leaders we have to accept that we don’t know it all. And we have to also accept that our teams will not know it all. We have to open ourselves as well as provide opportunities to our team to learn from anyone and everyone. I’ve seen some teams where individuals are hesitant to accept that they don’t know something. As leaders the way we can make a difference is by accepting ourselves, that we don’t have answers to everything. But, we have faith in our team that they will be able to pull the resources that are required and find solutions.
Rashim: With that, some of the good reads that I have for you is Search Inside Yourself. It’s actually written by Chade-Meng Tan who runs a mindful leadership program within Google. Like many companies, Google has … Google was actually one of the pioneers to realize that mindful leadership is the way to go. They started an internal program for all Google employees, whoever want to take it. Chade-Meng Tan actually leads that program.
Rashim: Another one is Finding the Space to Lead by Janice Marturano. A great read. And then there is Laws of Attraction for those who find positive affirmations to be helpful. I personally thought it was hocus-pocus two years ago, and now I actually believe in positive affirmations because now I know the science behind it and I’ve seen the data behind it. Those are some of the good reads that I have for you.
Rashim: And then in terms of the next steps, I would highly recommend that you set three calendar entries for yourself each day. Five minutes to meditate, 30 minutes each day to learn something new and invest in yourself. And for those of you who think time is a constraint, I have realized podcast, audible information is a great way to catch up on things when you are either exercising or cooking or in public transportation just commuting. Don’t do that while driving, at least I wouldn’t do because I get distracted very easily.
Rashim: Make an attempt to genuinely connect with people. When you have your one on ones next time, try going into that one on one without a laptop. Or if you are on phone, it sometimes helps to do video calls. And then before you go to bed, make sure you express gratitude. That’s my mindful self saying to myself. And then set up a monthly 30 minute meeting with yourself to review where you are on goals because it’s important for every individual to have that sense of achievement, what you achieved. And everybody’s success criteria looks different but make sure that you constantly, when you are motivated as a leader, you will see that your team is motivated. And you can infuse them with that motivation.
Rashim: And then again some of the resources over here and then Sarah over to you for any questions that we have from the audience.
Sarah: Alright, we do have about 10 minutes for a live Q&A. If you have any questions, go ahead and shoot those into that question box and Rashim will be more than happy to answer them.
Sarah: Let’s see. Alright, first question is coming from Michael. What is the trick to meditate? It is hard for me to focus on my breath.
Rashim: Yes. Michael, that’s a very good question. My trick is, and the way I cracked it is by starting with a little raisin in my mouth. All I used to focus on was the grooves in the little raisin in my mouth. By the time I was just enjoying that raisin in my mouth one minute would be done. And then slowly I started getting to a point where I got better with it. It also helps as I mentioned with the second … if you have a wall clock that has a second hand and there is a little sound associated with it and you can focus on that sound and that helps. Those are the two tricks that I have for you. And if you are a candy person like my kids are, M&M with peanuts also help.
Sarah: Wonderful, thank you. Next question is coming from Judas. How do we bring some of these tools to a larger team?
Rashim: That’s a good question. As a leader, I’m being completely honest in this group over here, as a leader I actually hesitated. Many of us practice mindfulness and we still hesitate to talk about it in a corporate environment because we don’t know how it will be perceived. For me, first time I said let’s do an affirmation before we do this team meeting, and my team said you really believe in those affirmations Rashim? I was like yeah, there is science behind it. And then when you start talking about it and building that open culture where people can talk and think about things.
Rashim: I had a team member who would never repeat an affirmation with us, and he would look around. And that’s fine too. And he still doesn’t do this, but the other day I was talking to him, and he says I actually enjoy all these affirmations. Or just assuming positive intent when you work with different teams outside of your group. It just takes … sometimes my team members would say, or even people outside of my team would say, God we are getting into this call with this person and it’s not going to be easy. And you just say, you know what hey assume positive intent. We haven’t even had a discussion with this person yet. Let’s see what the person has to say. Remember it’s always about business so don’t take anything personally.
Rashim: Those are the little ways in which you can start implementing it. And then slowly … another thing is practicing gratitude. I noticed that when I joined my organization there was not this culture of appreciation. People didn’t appreciate each other for the work that they did or their achievements. It was all about sales and business. And then once you start that culture and when you start appreciating people, and then copying your team and copying others, then suddenly everybody would jump on the bandwagon and everybody would start appreciating each other. And now we have built this culture where if anybody sends out an email about an achievement or what they accomplished, the entire team just appreciates each other. There is so much of that enthusiasm that we see because people now have motivation to do something good and showcase it with the entire team.
Sarah: Wonderful, thank you. Let’s see, next question is coming from Megan. What do you suggest if your staff perceives your attempts to show gratitude as not genuine.
Rashim: Yes. A couple of ways to handle that. One, when you express gratitude make sure that you tell them why you are expressing gratitude. If you just say thank you or well done, then people might not be able to connect with it sometimes. And it depends on the culture of the organization too. If your organization does not have the culture of appreciation, that can be the mindset. What I try to do is when I say thank you for a job well done, I highlight as a leader what were the organizational values that were depicted. Sometimes I say thank you for resolving the conflict or the issue that this customer was facing. You showed ownership, you showed customer obsession. Bring more meaning to your thank you.
Rashim: That’s a good way because then you are more invested and you know. People can relate to it because they were in those shoes and they actually saw what happened with the customer and they know that you are genuinely thanking them because you know what the person actually did. Wasn’t just saying thank you.
Sarah: Great, thank you. Looks like we probably just have time for one more question. This question is coming from Michelle. How do you focus when you are constantly being interrupted? I work in a hotel and have trouble focusing on my work when my staff comes in every 15 minutes with a question or a problem.
Rashim: The first aspect to this is empowering your staff to find answers. I realized this because I realized that I was actually providing answers to my team all the time. When I was doing that, they were not making an attempt to look at the resources that were available to them. And they were relying a lot on me to resolve all the queries that they have. If there is an FAQ thing that you can create or if there is a resource that you can point your team to, do that.
Rashim: And then sometimes it’s just good to step away. For example, today I’m delivering this webcast and I told my team that I will be out of pocket for next one and a half hours. And we respect boundaries with everybody on the team. They know that if there is an earthquake or something else that really need my help with which I don’t know if I can really help with if there is an earthquake in California in this time when I’m delivering this. They know when not to disturb me and it’s okay to set those boundaries with them. Tell them why you want that break because you have to find creative solutions.
Rashim: In a work environment there are days when we block for creative writing. For example, we are writing strategic papers. We say that I am not available today. If it’s really urgent try to resolve it amongst yourselves. And if you still can’t resolve it, let me know. And then you say that sometimes. People know and they try to find answers themselves rather than reaching out to you. But it’s all about setting the boundaries with your team and also empowering them to find solutions.
Rashim: And sometimes know that those solutions might not be the correct solutions and then you don’t need to get upset with them if they are not the right solutions. But gently guide them to the right solutions. That is what my recommendation is going to be for you.
Sarah: Alright, wonderful. We had some great questions. I know that there are a few in that chat box that we did not get time to answer but we are going to be sending those over to Rashim and then she will answer them. We will either be posting that on our blog or sending that out in an email. Definitely look out for that.
Sarah: Rashim, would you like to add any final thoughts before I just warp up and for today’s end.
Rashim: Yeah. Mindful leadership is really, really important. If you look at the data that was published on LinkedIn earlier in 2018, the key skills in the next few years that are going to matter are the skills around soft skills. How you lead people, how you bring empathy and mindfulness into your leadership style. This is definitely an area where emerging leaders and current leaders should invest in. I would really encourage you to join me, connect with me on LinkedIn. Use these resources that are available to you.
Rashim: I frequently write about this on my website and I also share event information where I am talking about mindfulness or about technology or how technology relates to mindfulness in my sessions or panels. If you are local, feel free to join them. If they are on WebEx, register for those. But leverage the resources and invest in yourself. That’s the only way we can make our businesses successful, we can be happy as individuals and we can be true leaders for our teams.
Sarah: Alright, Rashim thank you so much again. And everybody on the line, we appreciate your time and we hope you found today’s webinar inspiring. Thanks all, bye bye.
Rashim: Thank you.
Did you know that 68.5 percent of employees are disengaged at work? Organizations report 65 percent lower share price over time and 18 percent lower productivity because of disengaged employees. You have the power to positively influence employee engagement and organizational productivity by being a mindful leader.
In this webcast, you’ll learn the steps to become a mindful leader. Come prepared for an interactive session that will provide you with takeaways that you can start using today to be a mindful leader.
Participants Will Learn
- Identify the benefits of being a mindful leader.
- Learn to meditate.
- Find ways to detox.
- Create a strategy to invest in yourself.
- Identify and practice the virtues of mindful leadership.
Who Should Attend
- Training and HR professionals
- Independent consultants
- Managers delivering training
A dynamic, outcome-driven leader, Rashim Mogha is passionate about driving customer success through training and enablement. Her extensive career portfolio consists of prominent companies, such as Oracle, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and VMware. A published author and keynote speaker, Rashim is passionate about the power of positivity and coaches leaders to recognize, visualize, and actualize success using the power of positivity. Her thoughts on leadership, innovation, women in technology, and training and certification strategies have appeared in publications like Forbes. Rashim is an evangelist for women in technology and has been on speaker and mentoring panels for organizations, such as the Girl Geek X, NextPlay, LinkedIn and Pyladies.