Hi Leader,

What learning will you take forward to support your growth in the New Year?

We work with some of the most successful leaders in the corporate world around the globe. These executives inspire me with their creativity, agility, and sense of vision. They demonstrate resilience, purposeful focus, clarity, and positive confidence.

I'd like to share with you two unifying principles that I've observed these leaders demonstrate. They are at the foundation of the leaders' competencies and success.

Mindful Execution

First, they are self-aware.

They have a good sense of self. That is, they operate with a healthy sense of self-worth, and they understand how they create their best work. They help their teams excel by bringing forward their strengths and by encouraging and challenging their people to bring their own individual and collective strengths to the table. To catalyze in others their best strengths, you first must be in touch with your own.

Second, they practice mindful execution.

"Mindful execution" is not the same thing as "execution," which has become a corporate mantra. "Execution is everything" signifies simply that even the greatest idea, and the most brilliant strategy, mean little unless they are implemented. The "execution muscle" this corporate mantra created has become synonymous with drive and tenacious follow-through. Unfortunately it also has given rise to mindless execution, robotic pursuit, and thoughtless determination.

However, the capacity I've observed with the most successful leaders is a different quality of execution, which I call a mindful execution. What does that look like?

Leaders now are required to think differently from the way you did even just a few years ago. The environment is shape-shifting faster. Every day brings new challenges and opportunities. Your competitor in the morning becomes a collaborative partner in the afternoon. To thrive in this environment, you must think differently, see the landscape in a whole new way, adapt with agility, and execute mindfully.

Thus "mindful execution" means you have a highly alert and active learning loop that feeds on and updates what you do in real time. You debrief, pressure-test, and course-correct on the move, in the moment.

Wayne Gretzky said that a great hockey player skates to where the puck is going to be. Using this analogy, senior leaders today must redraw the arena on the move, redefine the game you play, and reframe the terms of engagement. No longer can you execute blindly, or simply apply a tenacious drive.

You must harness the discipline of thought together with the discipline of action. Integrating the two creates the mindful execution of highly effective leaders. If your team lacks the discipline "muscle" that is essential to mindful execution, give me a call so we can develop it quickly.

In the meantime, here are a few ideas to stimulate your thinking about discipline:

  • Discipline is self-liberating, not self-limiting.
  • Discipline is built on the foundation of the choices and behaviors you continually reaffirm.
  • Discipline is the process of programming the neurotransmitters in your brain to support your endeavors.
  • Building accountability structures and support networks makes the discipline "muscle" easier to develop and sustain.
  • Discipline is about finding the path to create results, not about working harder.
  • There are two disciplines you must master: doing what you have to do, and refraining from doing what you must not do.
  • Discipline is the foundation of self-care. Be disciplined about what you love and what is important to you.
  • To lead innovation you must build three types of discipline: personal, organizational and process. No discipline = no innovation.
  • When you are disciplined, you give each task or person exactly what is needed, not more and not less.
  • Discipline is an act of love. It is what you do even when you don't feel like doing it.

Now it is your turn. Turn the key. Build your self-insight and awareness. Execute mindfully. Thrive by applying a discipline of thought together with the discipline of action.

© Aviv Shahar