THE BLOG

The Essentials of Leadership

02/16/2015 09:25 am ET | Updated Apr 15, 2015

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~ E.E. Cummings (American Poet 1894-1962)

The statement is like dusting off clichés of yesteryears; yes, leadership is essential, yet leaders are not born but made. Today leaders, men or women, have a very different way at looking at and experiencing their responsibilities. Gender-based research in global practice offers leaders systematic changes needed to transform their organizations and bridge the gap between men and women at all levels of management. In this process leaders create a more inclusive and a productive organization, this affects everyone. Though there are varying definitions of what constitutes a successful leader-the skills and mindset have similarities, often the striking common one is their optimism and the drive to succeed.

In a world of insecurity, complexity, volatility and ambiguity it not only demands optimism but a clear vision and a quick-decision making process. Chiefs are learning to move quickly through the flood of information and pull away to take time-out. More leaders realize that the relentless pursuit of money and power brings about the stress-related burn-out. It affects all activities in business and in their private lives. Many are finding ways to enrich and fulfill their lives and know it demands a healthy well-balanced meaningful life.

Today the word 'mindfulness' comes more often into a conversation, not in a shallow way but truly learning to listen to that inner voice. Years ago the idea, that pulling away and time-out could also strengthen the ability to lead, might have been seen as absurd. Not today! The validity of this thinking has become a more important fact.

Life and memories are about cherished moments with beloved people, of exploring the world by travel, of great adventures, of passion, they are not about 'the bottom-line.' Granted they are needed, yet not essential for survival. Often team-spirit is wanted, needed and demanded. Today leaders realize more quickly when they are approaching a burn-out. Health issues manifest themselves more deeply-stress appears more quickly. A leader who rests within himself or herself, makes the right or sound decisions. Many people rely upon a leader who shows wisdom and mindfulness. This is part of the 'essential of leadership.'

Arianna Huffington, in the introduction to her book THRIVE The Third Metric To Defining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, writes of exhaustion and lack of sleep, after she collapsed on the floor of her office, she realized she needed to change.

"After my fall, I had to ask myself, was this what success looks like? Was this the life I wanted?

This was the classic wake-call. Looking back on my life, I had other times when I should have woken up, but didn't. This time I really did, and made many changes in the way I live my life, including daily practices to keep me on track...and out of doctor's waiting room. The result is a more fulfilling life, one that gives me breathing spaces and a deeper perspective."

Greg Furman, Founder & Chairman of The Luxury Marketing Council (www.luxurycouncil.com ) in addition to growing The Council, is a painter and a poet. He contends:

"Corporate and personal reputation are fast becoming one. Why so? You are who Google says you are. The web's warp speed and a 24-hour global clock require and demand leaders in luxury or in any organization to be MINDFUL, meaning highly strategic, organized, more creative, lighter-hearted in order to better manage stress. One powerful strategy is to balance right brain (logical, mathematical, quantitative), and left brain (intuitive, creative, playful). Right brain is the real-time intensity of managing, selling and growing business, WORK. Left brain is highly individualistic, artistic and athletic (painting, writing, swimming, running) PLAY/ DREAMING.

The challenge is to find a complimentary balance between right=and left brain which research shows energizes, liberates and frees executives to be the best that they can be. I have found that business leaders who have learned to balance these two sides (their brains) never seem to be 'working' but are always 'playing' and, as a result, are highly 'mindful', centered and focused in everything they aspire to achieve. We are entering a new era of 'the mindful CEO/CMO' who will be increasingly successful for doing so."

Aleta St. James (www.aletastjames.com) is an Energy Healer and a Success Coach. In her book LIFE SHIFT: Let Go and Live Your Dream, she speaks of her knowledge and definition of combining Eastern and Western techniques and teaches clients how to awaken the power within, at times in a single session. Questioned about 'mindfulness' Aleta reflects on the subject: "About 35 years ago I studied intense Tibetan Buddhist Practices, and Mindfulness was a big part of it. Mindfulness is one of the most powerful meditation practices I have integrated into my life. As a single parent, bringing up 10 year-old twins, and having a busy healing practice in New York City, I am able to remain centered, calm and present in the cyclone of modern day urban living." In one of the chapters of her book she writes 'Transforming Obstacles into Opportunities: Like the seven deadly sins or the nine cycles of hell, there are seven defined obstacles that may be holding you back. Each of these can be transformed into a positive life force energy that you can use to manifest your dreams.'

Each leader, woman or man, has the chance to find ways to reach goals which are present or on the horizon. Physical and psychological demands need to be considered. The chance to fulfill the goals of a high-powered position is often a volatile one. The demands and the rigors are relentless, therefor retreats are essential. Every person has the need for a more rewarding and joyful life. In today's world this reward is possible for there are highly reliable and trained specialists who understand the need and assist in finding a solution.

"Every human being of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect.
We must each respect others, even as we respect ourselves."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Poet -1894-1962)