Pausing to reflect and be mindful is critical for leaders today, says Keren Tsuk, CEO and founder of Wisdom to Lead. With a PhD in leadership and years of case study experience, she has seen the benefits for individuals and companies when leaders take time to be more aware. She suggests beginning each day with a few minutes of meditation, but mindfulness also extends to being willing to really listen to the needs around you, asking hard questions, and being present with others. Tsuk shares examples of executives who created space for dialogue around hard issues and included employees in the process, which led to better results. She explains that people want to feel connected and seen at work, so being there for those on your team is important. Tsuk also sees leadership as a more social process now that involves everyone in a company, not just executives and managers.
Keren, how does one get to become an expert in leadership?
First of all, it’s leading by example. It starts with evolving as a person. You learn from experience. I conducted a case study for two years in a high-tech company because I was really interested to learn what’s happening when theory meets the field.
My leading question is: what is the role of leaders nowadays in leading financially successful organizations, alongside motivating and engaging the employees and enabling them to fulfill themselves and to be creative? I found that mindfulness is a crucial element that leaders will need to embrace in order to engage people, to reinvent ourselves, to evolve.
I’m working with these tools and this experience to help people to listen deeper to themselves, their employees, the customers, and the market, and to listen to what they really need. And then to create products and services that add value to the community.
Why is leadership something that we find difficult to really do really well?
First of all, we need to be able to really listen to what’s needed and not act out of our ego and automated behaviors. We need to dare to pause and ask ourselves tough questions. We don’t like to look in the mirror and say, “I was wrong.” We really need to connect to our humanity and to others, and at the same time, to see the bigger picture and not to be hooked up in our story.
A mindful leader has the ability to be mindful and present. Also to hold tensions: between the short-term and the long-term, between the employees’ needs and the organization needs, between speed and quality. As a leader, I need to be able to hold these tensions and really listen.