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Leading with your <3

I want to share a story that I was told:

Once upon a time, a mother was upset with her son about the that he ate so many sweets. She took her son and went to seek advice from Mahatma Gandhi. Once she arrived, she asked him: "My son eats too many sweets, can you please tell him to stop?" Mahatma Gandhi listened intently and said: "Can you come back in two weeks?". The mother agreed unwillingly.

Two weeks later the mother ventured a second time to see Mahatma Gandhi. Again, she asked him: "My son eats too many sweets, can you please tell him to stop?" Mahatma Gandhi listened carefully and this time he spoke to her son: "Son, please stop eating sweets. It is not good for your health." The mother started smiling and was happy that this trip turned fruitful. After her son agreed and promised Mahatma Gandhi not to eat any sweets anymore, the mother asked Mahatma Gandhi: "May I ask why I had to wait two weeks for you to fulfill my wish?" Mahatma Gandhi smiled and responded: "Two weeks ago, I was still eating sweets."

What do you take from this story? They say 'walk the talk' or 'practice what you preach' or 'lead by example' and this story actually demonstrates it. This story demonstrates the importance and power of authenticity. Our impact lessens, if we are not authentic. Being our true selves, is when we are most successful and powerful. And authenticity starts in the heart:

The title of this article is "leading with your <3". Cambridge's Dictionary describes the heart as

  1. The organ in your chest that sends the blood around your body

  2. Used to refer to a person's character, or the place within a person where feelings or emotions are considered to come from. E.g. she has a good heart (= she is a kind person) or I love you, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart (=very sincerely).

What do I mean when I talk about "leading with your <3"? I refer to the second meaning of the Cambridge dictionary, amplifying the message of kindness, sincereness.

Leading means taking action or taking decisions that causes others (or you) to follow you, your guidance and your wisdom. In today's fast moving world, it is not awareness, but ignorance that finds its place in our decision-making. The absence of awareness on the impact of our power, our decision-making is what causes harm in our world. This is why it is essential to take decisions that come from your <3 - the source of your intuitive wisdom. Leading with your <3 or goodhearted decision-making is what creates real positive transformations on your level, the level of your business and your country.

Following article is sectioned in three: The first section focuses on goodhearted decision-making on yourself, the second section focuses on goodhearted decision-making within businesses (private sector) and the third section focuses on goodhearted decision-making within countries (public sector).

Taking care of your <3

Rarely leadership is set in relation to yourself. Common literature focus on leadership externally. I am grateful to my father for repeatedly sharing this wisdom with me: You cannot save others from drowning, if your own boat has holes.

This is why I strongly believe that leadership starts with yourself. Any leadership course has to start with a few questions about yourself:

Who are you?

What do you want?

What are your dreams?

What do you feel is your purpose?

How comfortable you are leading yourself?

Are you happy?

These questions sound simple, but I can guarantee that majority will have difficulties answering these questions. And that's ok. As long as we have a mindset of growth, allowing us to continuously understand, learn and be open to who we are and what we truly want, our passions and intuitive wisdom will guide us in the right direction. It is important to be aware that external influencers, such as social media, sedentary lifestyles or social pressure can become obstacles within the connection to ourselves. Letting go of these obstacles sounds much easier than it is. In this world, we are provided with various options or opportunities to support us in running away, ignoring or suppressing our emotions. The movement of mindfulness, yoga and meditation help counter these suppressors and spread awareness on taking care of our own physical and mental health.

There is no novelty to the advice on how to reignite your relationship with yourself: Exercise regularly, eat healthy food, sleep well, go to therapy and process any pain you have experienced to heal and grow from it (make sure not to forward any pain to others; remember: only hurt people hurt people), build a solid social network where you feel connected, inspired and supported, and meditate. Taking care of yourself and your <3 will make you happy and will provide you with clarity on answering above questions. In my article "why we need happy leaders" I quote Mahatma Gandhi: "Happiness is, when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony." This is the alignment we strive towards to create a better world. And for any worldly impact you might want to have - whether it is leading your team, leading your business or leading a country, you will only be successful, if you are able to lead yourself first. And knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Taking care of the <3 of your business

What is the <3 of your business?

Think about Simon Sinek's TED Talk on 'the Golden Circle': he argues that every business has a purpose, the big "WHY" we do things within our company. The circle outside of the 'why' is the 'how', and the external ring is the 'what'. In Simon Sinek's talk he says that people connect with purpose, they connect with belief, they connect with the "WHY" we do things the way we do things. Any company communicating on the "WHY" will be able to sell anything, because this is what creates the connection to us humans.

In order for us to see positive transformation in our world, it is essential, that we focus at connecting the purpose of every business to societal value. As business leaders, we should be able to proudly explain what societal value we provide and what social issue we are solving. The UN has created a list of sustainable development goals. If you are a business - pick one, and solve it through your business.

In order to make sure the <3 of your business is working well, we need to fully understand who we are and what we are doing. No house will stand long, if the foundation is not in place and strong. These foundations include the values that the company sets its intention in to represent. In the book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team", the authors identify "TRUST" as the key denominator to build a productive and successful team and company. Trust is inter-relational.

In a traditional corporate society, business leaders avoid talking about emotions. In context, "being professional", often meant dismissing or disapproving of emotions of oneself or the opposite party. And this is where the dilemma happens: They say, authenticity, which is key to successful leadership requires vulnerability, transparency, integrity and humility.

Harvard Business Review have identified various issues on the topic of authenticity and provided following solutions:

  • Learning from diverse role models

  • Work on getting better

  • Don't stick to 'your story'

The combination of leaders taking care of themselves, being authentic and setting and defining the examples they represent for the whole company and the company's vision with its value to society is what will make this world a better place.

Taking care of the <3 of your country

My sister gave me a gift - one of the best gifts I could ask for: A Book called "Think the Unthinkable". This book is essential for everyone to read, and I personally see this book as evidence for the necessity of the mission of Positive Parivartan.

The authors have analyzed following "issues most frequently cited by leaders at the top":

  1. Short-termism

  2. Confused

  3. Fear

  4. Risk aversion

  5. Purpose

  6. Inclusivity / Diversity

  7. Overwhelmed

  8. Groupthink

  9. Institutional conformity

  10. Behavior

  11. Cognitive overload

This list summarizes the necessity of a Positive Parivartan (=Positive Transformation) in leadership. The book describes, that "the aim must be to thrive on change, not be derailed by it. Your aim should be to disrupt yourself. Your ambitions should create a new culture, mindset and behavior, with new purpose, values, courage and humility. […] The conformity which gets leaders to the top disqualifies most of them from gripping the scale of disruption and knowing what to do about it." This situation of constant and unpredictable change is often used with the term VUCA - volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. As "Deputy Prime Minister told Piyush Gupta: 'the world is changing. We need to recalibrate, with reskilling, retooling refocusing the entire economy.. If we are not smart and [do not] do the right ourselves, then someone will come and do it for us.'" (Think Unthink)

Purpose of any government intervention towards the market is to compensate negative externalities. The current streams of money flow and lobbying from industries to the government counters this purpose and incentivizes governments to act in the benefit of the most influential, not the society.

President Obama said about leadership: "I think a great danger that often befalls leaders is that the people they are supposed to be serving become abstractions. They are not abstractions. And if you don't understand that what you do every day has a profound impact on somebody else, then you should not be there."

This disconnect is what is essential to solve in building current and future political leaders. And this disconnect is what we need to overcome by putting effort on identifying authenticity, mindset, purpose, morality and value in our political leaders.


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