Mindful Leadership

I’ve spent this week on a Mindful Leadership training course in the Netherlands. I’ve been working long enough to have been on quite a few training courses by now but, at a full 5 days, this one was certainly the longest and the one in which the participants (18 of us) bonded the most. The goodbyes and “keep in touches” we said earlier today to our colleagues from around the world were much more genuine than they sometimes are at these things.

As with any training course, there are many things I wrote down that I feel I must remember and use. It’s always much harder to keep that feeling a month later but I shall try.

Anyway, one of the things that I kept coming back to during the course was a structure around people’s motivations and psychological needs which is literally as easy as ABC. It goes like this:

People fundamentally want to feel three things…

  • Autonomy
  • Belonging
  • Competence

…and when one of those things is (or feels) threatened or out of balance, usually that is a bad thing and usually there is an emotion associated with that.

Or, to switch it around, when we feel emotions often they are the result of one of these things being out of balance. And sometimes when we’re afraid to do things it’s because we believe it will result in a change to one of them.

Within the course we did a lot of pretty specific coaching and analysis of both ourselves and specific work issues we’re currently facing and I regularly came back to this framework to get the core of what was going on.

Some examples:

As a woman in leadership I don’t feel like I and my contributions are valued as highly as my male colleagues (Belonging, Competence)

My manager checks in too often. I don’t feel like he trusts me. (Autonomy, Competence)

My manager isn’t very interested in what my team are working on. (Too much Autonomy, not enough Belonging – does it matter whether we turn up to work or not?!)

We also talked about this model in terms of the I-We-It model which I think can be a more useful way to look at it when trying to evaluate your current situation.

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