Leadership Lessons learnt at Yoga

I've practised Yoga for many years. I recall watching Swami Sarasvati on TV in the '70s! 

Swami Sarasvati still practising yoga - if only she knew that I watched her from the age of eight!

Swami Sarasvati still practising yoga - if only she knew that I watched her from the age of eight!

These days, my attendance isn't regular, however when I find a spare 75 min in my calendar I pop along to stretch my body and mind. It's that valuable time to reconnect with what my body is capable of doing and avoiding!

However, when I'm not at Yoga lessons, I always find time to practise my breathing*. Yes, you read correctly, I practise and continually learn how to breath effectively. Did you know that we only use one nostril at a time? (Not that that has anything to do with Leadership!)

Yoga offers many lessons in our quest to increase our performance as a respected and trusted leader. Here are just a few leadership thoughts:

1. Avoid rushing into a conversation with your words: take a deep breath through your noes , deep down to your belly button and slowly choose and deliver your answer, statement or question as you breath out. 

2. Count to five while you're breathing in and then again breathing out - doing this for three minutes prepares your body and mind to make a presentation, lessening your anxiety and need to gasp and grasp for water. (It's only when we breath through our mouth that we dry up the saliva.)

3. Sitting on the floor in the Lotus position guarantees a short meeting - great for decision making meetings. Try it! Yes, it's sounds hilariously crazy but it will encourage more efficiently conducted meetings.

4. Yoga encourages mindfulness - yes that term is trending! By practising yoga, your heart rate slows, your stress diminishes and your mind is clear to be more present with the important stuff going on in your team members' lives (and yours). You tune in more easily to the vibe your people create.

5. Finally, I find that I am more creative when I practise yoga. The blinkers and tunnel vision are removed and I can see the matter from a different perspective to arrive at a very different solution. Take the whole team to yoga and you will have a very creative team ... or at least a great belly laugh.

 I could go on however I suggest you try out or rediscover yoga. It takes patience and discipline - just like leadership.

*I mentor, coach and facilitate programs with leaders on a regular basis and find that I always share basic yoga breathing techniques which I've practised for many years, in particular when I worked the crazy hours in the corporate world. It was the most useful technique to stay calm and emotionally resilient.

Are you IN IT or ON IT?

Do you watch people?

I do!

I observe their faces and their body language. It speaks to me! Sometimes, I feel that I can read those troubled ‘thought bubbles’ above their heads! Yeah, their body gives plenty of clues however their facial expressions tell the story.

As a facilitator, I analyse every person in the group enabling me to collaborate – linking people to the discussion, the intent, the goal, shifting troubled thoughts and helping maintain the focus – regularly I burst those thought bubbles!

I take this skill to the streets; observing people move & breathe (often the passive cigarette smoke) and I see people relax: between meetings, off to the office, out to lunch -it’s great to see people laughing and moving.  

Too often, people skip lunch, chose to Skype, sit too long, and don’t get out of their offices /‘work space’ and not before long, sink ‘in it’ rather than move ‘on it’.

The ‘in it’ face is often expressionless or tired looking. Whereas, the ‘on it’ face speaks life.

Leadership is about making people feel important, enough to support their attempt of the impossible. So, if you value your people, help them get ‘on it’, create a workspace which encourages movement, interaction & focus ‘on it’. You are responsible for your people – get ‘on it’!