ISKCON News: Mindful Leadership in Politics [Article]

Mindful Leadership in Politics

By: for The Huffington Post on Nov. 7, 2016

"All leaders, political or otherwise, should try their best to “lead by example.” There should be an awareness that not only the people of the nation, but the entire world is listening to their messages and watching their behavior."

It would be refreshing to see some mindful behavior on the part of the American presidential candidates. The campaign seems to be anything but mindful. It seems as if the political candidates are willing to say or do almost anything to get into office. The things that are going on are absolutely disgusting and shameful.

All leaders, political or otherwise, should try their best to “lead by example.” There should be an awareness that not only the people of the nation, but the entire world is listening to their messages and watching their behavior. Watching leaders verbally assaulting one another on national television in front of the entire world is disheartening and should concern us all. The message that is currently being conveyed is that it’s okay to do “whatever it takes” to get into a position of power.

This message is being watched and ingested by the youth of today and this is the behavior the youth are going to adopt as they begin to enter positions of power. It’s a vicious cycle that should not be encouraged. It is quite irresponsible on the part of political leaders to behave the way they are behaving, while in the national spotlight, and not considering the subtle impact it’s having on the youth. What is the “take away” for the next generation from this and most other election campaigns?

No matter which candidate one is voting for, we should be absolutely disgusted by the way they are spending tens of millions of dollars on smear campaigns and trying to destroy the reputation of the other just to get into a leadership role. It’s promoting a culture that encourages waste and an overall disrespect for resources.

Are these really the character traits that we want to see in our leaders? Is this the behavior we want our youth to learn from and implement in their own lives?

We can’t expect any leader to be perfect. That would be unreasonable as no one can be perfect. However, we can definitely hold them to a higher standard.

mindful leader should always be asking themselves a few basic questions:

1. What example am I setting with my behavior?

2. What is my true motivation in becoming a leader?

3. How much is my ego driving me?

If our leaders are being driven by greed and the desire for power, control and fame, not much good is going to come from their leadership. Their main motivation is going to be to bolster their power and fill their pockets while in that position. They will not remember that the true purpose of leadership is to serve. Leading for any other purpose will create frustration in society because the issues people are concerned with won’t get addressed and resolved.

In addition to leading by example, a mindful leader should be able to check their ego, balance their emotions, and demonstrate humility. Being able to check one’s ego and balancing one’s emotions is absolutely vital for somebody who is in a leadership position and is trying to care for the public. Once the ego takes over and we become controlled by our emotions, we are no longer able to act with clarity and this is very dangerous especially if we are making decisions that could affect the lives of millions of individuals. 

Humility in leadership is another vital trait necessary for anyone who is hoping to lead. Humility isn’t a weakness. Humility doesn’t mean a lack of confidence. It’s the ability to take an honest look at ones strengths and weakness. According to a Forbes article:

A humble leader is secure enough to recognize his or her weaknesses and to seek out the input and talents of others.

As Gandhi eloquently stated:

I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.  

A leader lacking in humility and emotional balance is dangerous for society. However, we shouldn’t just expect leaders to imbibe these traits, we should do our very best to live by these qualities in our daily life. In one sense, we are all leaders. We all have an impact on others in some small capacity or another. Thus, it becomes our responsibility to act and speak thoughtfully.

Mindfulness practices of breathing, focusing, watching one’s emotions, and managing our ego aren’t complicated. These simple techniques allow us stay in touch with our thoughts, feelings and motivations. If we remain in touch with the factors that are driving us and causing us stress, the more we can remain in control of ourselves and that can prevent us from reactive behavior. If a society can attempt to live in this way, it will pave the way for a truly mindful person to lead.

Tags:
[ leadership ] [ democracy ]
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"All leaders, political or otherwise, should try their best to “lead by example.” There should be an awareness that not only the people of the nation, but the entire world is listening to their messages and watching their behavior."

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