Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader by Marc Lesser

Great book, short and to the point. One of my favorite bosses used to always say, “Keep It Simply Sweetie….the KISS theory.” So for me learning this early on has made the most for a simpler outlook on many aspects of life, relationships, both big and small, work relationships, and jobs. An interesting factor pointed out by the author is many times those in power fear being let down, or fear letting go of their authority as they fear disappointment. Those in roles of power fear change and in many ways it is hard to let go of power and delegate. In my own life I can see this fear reflected in allowing my teenage children to drive for example. To trust that they will drive safely and defensively I must trust and empower them and let go of my fear in order that they may grow as young adults and individuals.

The same goes for supervisors and leaders in administrative roles. Letting go of fear is a must to grow and thrive an organization and lead it to its fullest potential. Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader : Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery outlines seven practices to use on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis. Some examples are: starting a morning meditation routine and viewing it as a matter of brushing your teeth and not skipping it, just do it; writing down your fears of letting go or disseminating jobs or power; make it simple – realize all your choices (and that just about everything in your life is a choice) and choose to think about stress or change as an inevitable part of everyday life, and step back and take a deep breath, and move through the stress or change, viewing it as an opportunity to hone in on letting go and simplifying your life.

Check out Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery and add some new tools and techniques to your leadership skill-set.

Mandela’s Way by Richard Stengel

I have long been fascinated by Nelson Mandela — intrigued by how an individual could endure 27 years in prison and then become South Africa’s charismatic leader during a critical phase in its history.  Though not a biography, this compact book, subtitled Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage, gives us insights into the man’s character and allows us to easily absorb some of his life’s essentials truths.  Here are a few examples:

  • Courage is Not the Absence of Fear
  • Have a Core Principle
  • See the Good in Others
  • Know When to Say “No”

The author, Richard Stengel, editor of Time magazine, spent nearly three years with Mandela, eating with him, traveling with him and watching him interact with other dignitaries — and it shows.  Stengel obviously has deep affection for his subject, and he uses events in Mandela’s life  to illustrate the lessons — how as a child, Mandela was raised by a tribal king as a companion for his own son — how he became a freedom fighter and seldom saw his own family —  and how he found new love and remarried at the age of eighty.

I enjoyed this easy-to-read book and would recommend it not only to adults eager to gain new leadership skills, but also as an appropriate gift for those soon-to-be graduates on your list.