Mindfulness has been studied by credible researchers, and there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the real, tangible benefits of mindfulness that are relevant to leaders.
Numerous studies show that mindfulness practitioners have better focus, attention, and cognitive performance. In addition, being mindful means being present and aware. At Neo-Strategic, we put this in the framework of enabling particular leadership skills and capabilities. This includes things like attentive listening, which fosters empathy and connection with others, self-awareness, which is the pre-cursor to self-management, and the ability to better navigate challenging circumstances and strong emotions. These qualities in turn are the building blocks of emotional intelligence and of resilience – important attributes for leaders to develop and strengthen.
WOMEN LEADERS IN STEM
The advice to aspiring and current women leaders is confusing. Some say that to be effective leaders, women must “act more like a man,” while others urge women to “embrace your natural strengths.” How can women make sense of this seemingly contradictory information? Women in engineering face additional challenges due to their lower representation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
The Neo-Strategic approach to leadership development for STEM women includes three things:
1) Exploring evidence-based challenges that women face in both engineering fields and in advancing in leadership roles, and how to address these challenges
2) Identifying essential leadership abilities – what they are, and why they are imperative to effective leadership – and how these begin with defining individual leadership identity and values
3) Presenting and practicing specific techniques to develop these leadership abilities
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is often used to broadly describe the “soft skills” that leaders need to be successful. But research demonstrates that EI is comprised of a specific set of skills that are a strong indicator of success, including flexibility, assertiveness, and empathy. It is not that EI is the most important or the only component of leadership effectiveness – domain expertise and cognitive abilities are also required – but that EI is a significant contributor.
The respected Center for Creative Leadership found a significant correlation between key leadership competencies and EQ-i skills, and further showed that high-performing leaders had higher EQ-i scores than low-performing leaders.
Neo-Strategic offers the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 Emotional Intelligence assessments. These assessments are often used as a starting point for executive coaching, leadership development, or team development.
The impact of both good and bad communication in the workplace is noteworthy:
• The U.S. Joint Commission for Hospital Accreditation reported, “Communications failures are the leading causes of inadvertent patient harm,” being the primary reason in over 70% of cases.
• Slaw, a Canadian on-line legal publication, reports that 40% of malpractice claims against real estate agents involve communication errors with the client.
• In a survey conducted by the Computing Technology Industry Association, 28% of respondents cited poor communication as the main cause of failure for IT projects.
• A separate study found that companies with the most effective communications programs provided a 26% total return to shareholders (TRS) compared with a -15% TRS for firms that communicate least effectively.
One half of effective communication is conveying specific expectations. The other half of effective communication is attentive listening. At Neo-Strategic, we believe leaders are responsible for setting the basic foundation for direction and accountability within their organizations. And attentive listening is central to diffusing conflict and to fostering a culture of value, respect, and connection. Simple shifts in communication habits have powerful impacts on the organizational effectiveness and culture that leaders enable.