Leading with authenticity also means you must practice what you preach. The best evidence of your true feelings and beliefs comes less from your words than from your deeds. When your words are believably connected to what you do, when you behave in line with your vision, only then do you display integrity and build trust with your followers. What behaviors are essential for growing your visionary leadership? What should you be conscious of, and which practices can help you in your journey toward mastery?
Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer says mindfulness encompasses a mindset and attitude that leads to discovery and noticing new things. Growing your mindful state boils down to three behaviors, according to Langer: creating new categories, welcoming new information and adopting more than one view.
There are behaviors and practices that can help you. You can’t simply tell yourself to start “recategorizing” from now on, or to be open to new information or to stop taking a single perspective. Here are some original, easy-to-integrate behavioral change practices that you can incorporate in your daily leadership to act yourself into a new way of thinking.
Re-categorization Practice: Break the pattern. A deceptively simple practice to increase your chances of seeing things differently is to deliberately break your normal pattern of working, communicating, thinking, reacting and responding. For example, if you are normally the first to volunteer, hold back. If you always take the same route to work, choose a different one. Change where you sit. Raise or lower the height of your chair.
New Information Practice: Radical exposure. We are strongly influenced by the small group of people we have direct contact with — for better or worse. And since we tend to hang out with people who are fairly similar to ourselves, chances are we are limiting our perspectives and excluding information. The radical exposure practice promotes a deliberate effort to engage, with some frequency (e.g., once a month), with a subgroup that is profoundly different from the usual suspects you hang out with. Visit a conference of a very different profession, hang out with skaters, join an arts club, buy a magazine randomly o the shelf, things like that.
Multiple View Practice: Opinion swap. Choose someone at work who is least like you — not someone you dislike, just someone very different. Think of a subject you normally disagree on. It might be something simple, like a product, marketing message or television program that you avoid or find trivial and the other person really likes. Imagine adopting this person’s opinion, like trying on an outfit. See things from this person’s point of view and come up with some reasons why he or she loves what you hate, or vice versa. Once you are comfortable, do the same exercise — live. Have a real conversation with the person, and gradually let go of your opinion and take the other side. Just experiment — what do you have to lose? l