What we really want in a leader
What do these leaders in common?
- Bill Gates, philanthropist and former Microsoft CEO
- Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa who changed the world’s view on apartheid
- Warren Buffett, possibly the greatest stock investor of all time
- Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize winner for her leading role in ending the 14-year civil war in Liberia
What is mindful power? It’s the profound combination of being personally powerful and extraordinarily mindful. It’s what we need in the leaders for our countries, cities, towns, businesses and families. It’s how we want to lead our lives.
We all know that history is full of powerful leaders who were not mindful. Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Richard Nixon possessed great power but lacked mindfulness.
In leadership, mindfulness is having an expanded and deep awareness of everyone and everything that one’s leadership affects. It’s the understanding, caring and actions that have the greatest good for all. Let’s delve into our examples of individual leaders who have great mindful power.
Bill Gates and his wife Melinda quietly use their billions of dollars to help solve some of the world’s most critical problems. For example, they provide matching funds to organizations committed to helping Third World countries develop clean water, which is a health and economic game-changer.
Nelson Mandela was an angry and potentially violent leader in his younger years. But during his 27 years of imprisonment for leading the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, he became enormously mindful by engaging in a meditate type of process every day. When Mandela became the first black president of South Africa and had the opportunity to avenge his captors and oppressors, he instead chose to create peace, equality and racial integration. He’s one of the great political examples of mindful power in history.
Warren Buffett has successfully challenged the world’s wealthiest individuals to donate the majority of their fortune to charitable organizations. The scores of billionaires who have committed are listed on Buffett’s website. Buffett is catalyzing the redistribution of billions of dollars of wealth around the world to help solve its most critical problems.
Leymah Gbowee, the Nobel Peace Prize winner for her amazingly courageous and profoundly mindful role in ending the Liberian civil war, may be the most mindful. She’s certainly the most courageous of our four examples of leaders with mindful power. If you ever feel like you can’t make a difference because you don’t have the authority or resources, read about how Gbowee and a group of seven other women, with a combined financial resource of $10, stopped two warring armies in their tracks. She’s one of the most inspiring leaders in my Fearless Leaders book.
Strong personal power gives you the opportunity to become mindful. However, recent electroencephalogram (EEG) brain research suggests that as people gain power, or even perceive that they have more power, they tend to become less empathetic and mindful. Many great companies including Google and LinkedIn are bringing in mindful experts like 21st century monk Greg Burdulis to teach their employees how to be more mindful. As you develop more inner strength and personal and/or positional power, it’s critical that you consciously work to develop your mindfulness. Mindful powerful can create immense inner peace and contentment and … it’s what we all want in a leader.