It is amazing how much more there is to learn about leadership and relationship management even after 36 years as a leader in business and civil society. If you are a lifelong learner like me, you will appreciate what I am about to share with you. Immediately after completing my term as your Federation President, I commenced an 8 weeks Advanced Conscious Global Leadership programme that requires phases of introspection, meditation, trauma healing, mindfulness, creative flow and manifesting abundance.
Story by Anusha Santhirasthipam SISWP Federation Immediate Past President (2020-2022)
As mindful leaders, we are ready to inspire and empower those around us. We are transformational. It is however, often difficult to lead with integrity, as there are constant distractions, disturbances and things that just “get in the way”. So we need to learn to be still, to slow down and focus in order to make thoughtful decisions. I learnt 3 powerful leadership skills that take us from good to great! I hope you exercise these skills daily.
Our biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply. How many people really listen to their fellow team members? Think about it-most of the time we’re preoccupied listening to our own thoughts. When you listen, we will engage people and create a better connection, which will improve performance. When we are still, our inner voice amplifies our human connection.
A compassionate leader is an empowering leader. Compassion opens our hearts to the feelings of others without judgment. We act from the heart. It does not mean we overlook the mistakes made by our team members. It means we have sympathy and understanding for their difficulties and know we are not different from them.
Sometimes, when we move up the Soroptimist hierarchy, it is easy to forget where we came from. We may forget what it was like struggling at the grassroots. It’s ingrained in us to be logical and to hide our emotions in the meeting space. By tapping into the power of the heart, you will discover your ability to be compassionate. At first, your ego will resist this. Your ego will start judging others. Judgment will keep you small. Judgment is a nasty little trick the ego uses to separate us from others.
When we are compassionate, we shift from a “ME” mentality to a “WE” mentality. We lead with love instead of fear, and in the long run our decisions will lead to a better outcome!
A commitment to service helps us connect with others in a meaningful way and show by our actions that we are there to serve them. To lead, we must not only appeal to the minds of the people we work with at club or region level, but also to touch their hearts, to understand what motivates them and to really care about them. Leadership is not about telling people what to do, but to put the needs of others first and help people develop and perform at the highest level possible.
Servant leadership involves putting your team first and yourself second. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader-first, because such a leader is driven by ego, power and authority.
By listening, showing compassion and being a servant leader, we become that transformational leader that everyone wants to work with and everyone will work tirelessly for. When we bring these attitudes to our clubs, regions and Federation meetings, events and programmes, we cultivate a new type of Conscious Leadership. A leadership of presence. All we have is this present moment and each other to make our volunteer leadership role fulfilling and meaningful.
I am currently in week 4 of this 8 weeks programme to sharpen mindfulness and to live and work consciously in order to inspire, motivate and empower more people and organisations with authenticity, vulnerably and compassion.
SISWP Federation Immediate Past President (2020-2022)