"The Present Leader Is A Mindful Leader?" by Paul Mudd

The Leadership Multiverse
I spend a lot of my time in the UK working with leaders drawn from across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and with increasing frequency they get what it means to be a “Good to Great Leader”. They are comfortable with Covey and have sought first to understand then be understood. And they’re down with Hertzberg, Drucker, Kotter, Schlezinger, Blanchford, Hamel, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Semler, Heitfetz & Minsky, Morgan, Peters, Scouller, Goffee & Jones, Maxwell… Of course, I could go on but I won’t & for the simple reason there are, if you care to Google it, 800 Million hits for leadership.

There are also +130,000 theories and the current Leadership business is worth £45 Billion per annum. I’ll leave you to work out whether we’re getting value for money!

Let me share with you though that more and more of my clients are asking how can they be really present as a Leader? How can they embody Leadership? How can they be a Mindful Leader?

Jai Adapte Un Peau
I first wrote about Mindful Leadership in my book, ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ which originally came out in 2014. The French have a saying, “Jai Adapte Un Peau” - I fit my skin. To my mind in leadership terms this goes beyond Authentic Leadership and Somatic Leadership. It goes beyond mere physical presence and the way we might stand and hold ourselves. It pushes the boundaries of Narrative Leadership and the leader as storyteller & more importantly, story doer.

These are all facets of Leadership that I have worked with and written about for quite a wee while now and at the heart of Leadership lie a paradox, but that’s something for another day.

Present Leadership
So, what is Present Leadership? Is it Mindful Leadership? And is it the right leadership for a modern Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous world. Of course as a Leader you’ll say, I’m Present! Similarly, as a Leader you’ll also be busy being strategic, whilst actually trying to deal with what’s directly in front of you because… well because it just seems so much more urgent and concrete.

As James T Kirk (he isn’t fictional is he?) says in the second reboot of the Star Trek Franchise, ‘Into Darkness’ – “I don’t know what I should do – I only know what I can do!” And that in a nutshell is it. So many of us in Leadership roles don’t always know what we should do, but feel compelled to do something and we pretty much know what we think we can do! Not particularly strategic however, is it? And is doing what you can do in a given Leadership situation really what we mean by being present as a Leader?

The Modern Leader is increasingly expected to ‘do’ and ‘be’ many things. As if by a process of osmosis almost, we expect our Leaders today to be able to anticipate, think critically, interpret both the big and small data, asses risk and be decisive, be comfortable with ambiguity and be able to work with divergence and emergence, have mental toughness and great stamina, be resilient, be authentic & act with great integrity, be prepared to fail, &, be an agile and continuous learner. Oh, &, be available 24 -7! And that’s just a few of the innate characteristic and abilities we want and expect our 21st Century Leaders to have.

It’s a tough calling and an even tougher art to practice, let alone getting it right, because our Leaders today lead in a complex world surrounded by Wicked Problems, multiple agendas and good old-fashioned human nature. Being present as a Leader is about much more than simply showing up, or being in the room. It is in fact, one characteristic upon which good-to-great Leadership rests. Lots of Leaders show up, but they’re not in the moment. They find themselves distracted by whatever other crisis, issue or meeting they have to deal with and this really undermines their ability to gather the necessary intelligence and effectively judge and weigh situations and make the best decisions.

A great leader will surround themselves with great people and inspire them by being present, both in mind and body. A great Leader will be genuinely interested in those whom they lead and in their personal stories. They will be natural story tellers themselves and be able to readily engage, personally connect and relate; ensuring they have their finger on the pulse and a clarity of vision and understanding that enables them to “hear the song beneath the words”.

By the simple act of being present, a Leader will be able to consume the details without being consumed by them. They will notice the little things – nuances and subtleties – that before may have passed unnoticed. They will become more attentive and aware & all these little things will make up the difference between being a merely good Leader and a great one!

And a great Leader will also care and take the time to understand the challenges that those they lead face, &, the integrity of this connection will provide insights into not just the here and now, but also into the future.


This great Leader, this modern Leader, is of course a Mindful Leader and I talk more about this on @Medium... just search for Mudd Partnership. My business website is www.themuddpartnership.co.uk

You can contact me directly at paul@themuddpartnership.co.uk and for more information about me look here. There’s no need to labour the point, we’re all in this together. And follow me on Twitter at @paul_mudd @TheMindfulBook and @muddpartnership

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