I came across a documentary a few weeks back about an event that had happened more than three decades back. The host was chatting with a panel of people from different backgrounds and expertise about what had happened.
“Her job description pretty much was to be obedient and pretty, but that’s not what she aspired for. She wasn’t supposed to be an active leader, let alone excel at being one. Out of all her amazing leadership qualities, the best one, in my opinion, was her compassion,” someone said.
The story dates back to April 1987, when Princess Diana, one of the most famous people in the world, opened the first medical unit in the UK dedicated to treating people with HIV and AIDS. During her visit, she shook hands with a patient without wearing gloves and that changed people’s perceptions of the disease forever.
“Princess Diana truly was the ‘People’s Princess’. Her actions that day dispelled a lot of myths about the disease and she led by example.”
Leadership isn’t about managing people or making demands, it’s much more than that. Leadership must be a character-building and life-changing experience, for you and those you lead. This is why being a leader extends beyond the walls at work.
Always lead by example
This is a piece of advice that has been drilled into us since we were kids and it’s one that stands the test of time for leaders.
Humans learn by observation from a very young age and that stays true throughout their life. Whether it’s reporting to work on time, dressing in a certain way, going on a vacation and taking time for yourself or how you handle stressful situations, the way you manage yourself can set the tone for everyone else, especially if you’re a leader.
When it comes to stress management especially, it’s important that you show your teams how to handle stress constructively. Nowadays, mindfulness and meditation are popular solutions and if you go the extra mile to show your teams and people that you leverage strategies like this to remain on top of your stress, that just adds to your credibility as a leader.
Volunteer for a good cause
Volunteering may conjure an image of a soup kitchen, but volunteering isn’t only about ladling soup at a homeless shelter or feeling good about yourself.
It’s also not about donating money and forgetting about it because leadership, as I mentioned before, must be a character-building and life-changing experience.
Choose an initiative that is engaging and one that teaches you something. Cleaning up your local park, getting your local government to change an ordinance or even offering your skills and expertise, pro-bono, for a good cause are good ways to spend your time and explore your own skills and talents.
Share your skills and expertise
Many leaders and self-made professionals share their skills and expertise with people who are trying to become leaders themselves, nowadays. By sharing your triumphs and failures and letting others learn from them, you position yourself as someone who’s authentic but also has the necessary experience to be a good leader.
Whether you run a blog, organise a meet-up or teach a workshop, freely sharing your expertise with others allows you to make connections, show your support, and work with people to improve your own people skills.
Learn how to become a leader both inside and outside of work through mindfulness
It’s not easy being a leader both inside and outside work, but there are a few strategies that make this process easier. For me, cultivating mindfulness professionally and personally has helped me immensely, especially when it comes to projecting values of leadership wherever I am. It has helped me become more self-aware, compassionate, empathetic, and patient.
While I have a long way to go, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve as well.
Access and explore my tried-and-tested programmes and publications on mindful leadership and learn how to become a leader both inside and outside work.