Marc Lesser is a speaker, executive coach, and the founder and CEO of ZBA Associates, a consulting company specializing in executive development and leadership. He joins Marcel to discuss his recent book, Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery Kitchen, which offers readers a practical framework that they can apply to leadership regardless of their level. The book provides the tools to eliminate fear and self-doubt, shift one’s awareness, and cut out workplace drama.

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Show Notes

  • Mindful leadership involves practicing self-awareness of your feelings and proclivities, as well as becoming comfortable in your own skin while engaging compassionately with others. “All of business and leadership is essentially helping others,” Marc says. [5:46]
  • The seven practices of a mindful leader are: love the work; do the work; don’t be an expert; connect to your pain; connect to the pain of others; depend on others; and keep making it simpler. [9:25]
  • Marc argues that we should not avoid difficult things or challenging circumstances, but rather acknowledge them. By connecting with our pain, we find the real jewels within ourselves and gain freedom. It also allows us to better empathize with the pain of others. Marcel shares an experience in which connecting with his pain enabled him to let go of his frustrations. [11:31]
  • Marcel and Marc discuss the individualism of American society and the value of depending on others in the workplace. He notes that cultivating trust and depending on others are related. If trust is not being cultivated, then cynicism is. “Under the veneer of strength and independence, we smell a lack of authenticity,” Marc says, “we can smell when someone’s words and actions are not aligned.” [15:57]
  • A silver lining of the global pandemic is that it has forced people to slow down, accept uncertainty, and go back to what really matters. According to Marc, there is simplicity in accepting what we can’t control. He discusses the value and benefits of meditation. [21:26]
  • Levels of stress accentuate trust in workplaces: in environments where there was little trust, there will be less when people go back out to work, and vice versa. Two important things to consider when building trust are body language and communication skills. Your words, actions, and body language must align as people will be less likely to trust you if they perceive that you are not genuine. In addition, good communication skills, as well as skills for managing your own emotions, help you to relate better to those in your care. [32:16]
  • Marcel asks Marc why he thinks some leaders still lead through fear. Marc suggests that natural selection allowed for the more cautious apes to evolve into humans, resulting in deep-rooted internalized fear. Mindfulness evolved as a way to cultivate freedom from being driven by fear and desires. Switching from a fear-driven leadership approach to mindful leadership requires highlighting your intentions, noticing how well they align with your actions, and being aware of how others perceive you. [36:00]

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About Marcel Schwantes

Marcel Schwantes is the founder and chief human officer of Leadership from the Core, a global leadership training and executive coaching boutique aimed at developing great leaders and great cultures through Servant Leadership.

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