"You cannot manage other people unless you manage yourself first." - Peter F. Drucker
Many clients come to us for coaching around managing their team more effectively. What we often realize through the initial stages of the engagement is that the client cannot manage him/herself effectively. Managing one's calendar typically is considered more important managing one's mind -- and time management approaches still abound in corporate trainings. This approach is flawed - here's why:
- Time management helps to structure hours in the day, but does not address finding more focus in the mind. Too often our clients can't pay attention to their to-do list because they are facing too many things that compete for their attention.
- When we are unfocused and scattered, our work suffers and our lives become stressful.
- When we are too busy multi-tasking to pay attention properly to the person or task in front of us, we become ineffective and reactive in our emotions and actions.
- When we can't manage our own emotions, motivations and reactions, we cannot truly lead others authentically and effectively.
Managing ourselves -- our thoughts, intentions and actions -- is fundamental to managing others more effectively. 'Self-management' is slowly getting recognition today as a fundamental leadership skill, and getting recognition through the use of mindfulness in the workplace.
A daily, 10 minute, mindfulness-based self-management practice will help anyone manage themselves better -- resulting in more focus, less stress, and greater engagement with those around them. The practice is very simple: close your eyes, bring your attention to your breathing, and notice each inhale and exhale. Count each inhale/exhale as one, and count from 1 to 10. At 10, count backwards to 1. Very quickly, you will notice that the mind wanders away, frequently. Return your attention to the breath as many times as you need to, practicing this for 10 minutes per day (or more). Training the mind to return to the breath is similar to training the muscles of the body - with practice, the mind gets stronger.
A stronger mind brings about significant improvements in focus, concentration and memory. Stress-levels decrease, due to the calming effect of the breath-focused practice on the nervous system. At work, a stronger mind improves personal effectiveness, and for leaders, this has a positive cascading effect within the organization.