Effective small business owners know how to manage a company, but they are also natural leaders who work on themselves as much as they do on their businesses. Being a leader involves doing everything we can to make ourselves a good example for employees in all areas. As leaders of holistic centers we might not always recognise ourselves as small business owners and feel the need to develop our business acumen instead. It’s important that we recognise the wealth of experience we have in the holistic field, while continuing to develop personally and professionally.
Holistic leadership involves a variety of ideas and practices, such as management by objectives, that can contribute to the productivity and overall well-being of ourselves and employees. Although many of its principles run counter to modern intuitions about success in business, taking time to slow down and think more carefully can actually have a significant impact on our skills as a leader. Wisdom 2.0 – the meeting of mindfulness and technology celebrating it’s 10th year – is a great example of blending these skill sets.
Meditation and Mindfulness
We know the world of business and IT is more fast-paced than ever, and probably recognise that making ourselves completely invested in our work may actually be diminishing our performance. Meditation and other mindfulness techniques can help to improve our productivity in a variety of ways and keep us mentally alert throughout the day. Although we realise this as leaders of holistic centers how often are we guilty of neglecting our own self care and spiritual practice? It seems to be the mysterious paradox of our environment and self discipline is key!
Beyond the benefits related directly to working, becoming more mindful has been linked to a number of positive effects on mental health. Feeling better mentally and emotionally puts us in position to be a stronger leader and take on any challenges our centers face.
Becoming More Creative
While traditional business skills are certainly valuable in today’s economy, large-scale creativity has been the source of a number of ideas that conventional logic would likely have missed. In our race to be faster and more efficient in everything we do, we may be losing an opportunity to apply more of our creative instincts.
Trying one of the countless mindfulness exercises that have become more well-known in recent years for even ten minutes a day may be enough to help us make more connections throughout the workday. A short mindfulness session will pay dividends in the increased mental energy we notice after. Is this already a regular and consistent part of your day? Do you take the time to join a yoga or other wellbeing class each week or enjoy the vacation of an annual retreat within your center?
Taking time out of our day, week or year, to be more thoughtful also contributes to a more empathetic understanding of our employees. Showing them that we’re genuinely interested in their goals and success will motivate them to be at their best, get the most out of our teams and help us have a greater social impact.
Effective management requires a wide array of skills, and there’s no way to fully prepare for everything that could come up in our centers, especially those more remote and off in the grid, subject to the will of nature. Embodying holistic leadership is a great way to become more thoughtful and adaptable to the unforeseen challenges that come with being a manager. This year our theme for the annual Centers Gathering is the Inter-Generational Transfer of Leadership.
Many of our centers stand on the legacy of hippy pioneers in the 60s and 70s and have established deep foundations. Although contributing in so many ways to personal and societal transformation, we perhaps fall short of the potential impact as for many non-profits it’s in our DNA to reject money/organisation/corporate methodologies as they don’t match our values. Have we in some ways thrown the baby out with the bathwater and created a challenging situation for ourselves that now needs to be re-balanced?
“In the 1970s, a huge, new group of workers entered the workforce. These idealistic world-changers often had nonprofit intentions. Over the next four decades, the number of nonprofit organizations grew from 250,000 to 1.5 million (Hall, 2006; Salamon, 2012). This enormous generation of 75 million people came of age at a time when social justice issues came to the fore and hundreds of thousands of nonprofits were born to address those myriad concerns… Now those same purpose-driven people are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day.”
This is a quote from a 2018 report by the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management. It’s a thought-provoking and insightful read. The content is relevant to our non-profit world as many co-workers in holistic centers are facing the financial challenges of retirement. The leading edge – blending holistic skills and mindful awareness with best business practices – professionalising ourselves while staying true to our values, is vital to support our centers and all those who serve within each one to thrive in a new and even more impactful way.
“A generation that often places a high priority on work-life balance has closely observed work-stressed elders coping with governance and funding challenges, working long hours for low pay and now not able to retire.” The report continues. “They have some understandable criticism of the way the sector is currently built. New models of agency leadership need to be explored.” Leadership and the consciousness of money are some of the themes we’ll be exploring during the Gathering in May. We welcome your participation as we shape the next generation of holistic leadership.