The Leadership Pause | Dr. Chris Johnson
Dr. Chris Johnson’s background combines psychology, Aikido (she’s a 3rd degree Black Belt!) and mindfulness training. The result is a powerful and pragmatic approach for moving wisdom into action. We talk about Embodied Leadership and the importance of creating a Leadership Pause habit.
“Embodied leadership has an edge over anything conventional, because it allows us to access all of who we are…rationally, cognitively, analytically, our capacity for empathy, and to take effective action based on sound decisions that we tune into that are congruent with our values.”
– Dr. Chris Johnson
Physical awareness leads to authenticity and better decision-making
The world is becoming more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). For today’s leaders to stay ahead of the accelerated pace of change, it’s important to inspire trust and confidence in those with whom they work. Embodied Leadership practices help us achieve this.
Leading is often approached in a cognition-first or “top-down” manner: first working to analyze a topic, sprinkling in some emotional intelligence, and then taking action in accordance with that understanding. Conversely, embodied leadership draws from bodily awareness. In other words, we begin with a physical opening, calming and connecting with what we say is important, and then can take a broader perspective with more mental space. Tuning into physical sensations and sensory experiences can center us. This nurtures a connection between body and mind that enables congruence and authenticity between mind and actions.
My conversation with Dr. Chris Johnson today examines what embodied leadership is and how it can enable smarter decision-making, helping both the individual and the organization.
It starts with a pause
[13:16] “It might be a momentary pause, where I step back, take a breath, and in that breath, I can see and observe what’s going on between you and me, and I can feel into myself – like what’s congruent with my own values here? I can actually look at the broader horizon of work.
[13:46] “A pause could be momentary. It could be a short pause to create a deliberate practice of mindfulness. It could be a weekend pause… Those are the things we often think we don’t have time for, and we hit that point of diminishing returns.
“Reminding ourselves and taking that pause to say, ‘What’s the bigger commitment? What’s the bigger vision?’ Align around that instead of getting sucked into the details.”
Clear mind, clear path forward
[22:16] “This is where mindfulness also comes in to help. When there’s a lot of chatter [in the mind], it’s really difficult to be clear-headed, clear-eyed, and clear-hearted about what’s the most important. There’s a quote by Lao Tzu – ‘Can you be patient enough to let the mud settle so the right answer can arise?’…
“If we intentionally create the space, and if we commit to it, as a part of the leadership pause, it can allow all of that mud to settle. So that whatever shows up in this moment, as the next right action is the one we see and can move toward.”
Take care of yourself – and see a ripple effect
[10:33] “Organizations and businesses of all sizes reflect their leaders. When your energy is high, and your actions are congruent with your words, your presence produces trust…While you can’t erase the uncertainty your organization and people are facing, you do have the power to respond to their challenges with intention, integrity, and honesty.”
[30:15] “Awareness is key for all leaders who are aspiring to lead in this VUCA world and be really present to the craziness and how to stay present in it – and maybe even enjoy the ride.”
Resources mentioned in this episode:
The Power of Pause in the Mindful Leader magazine:
Episode 21: Owning Your Value | Key Elements for Authenticity and Personal Power:
A Guide to Owning Your Value
Dr. Chris on Resilience: https://q4-consulting.com/resilience/
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