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Nonprofit Leadership Newsbrief: Power and Mindfulness in Leadership, October 2013

Submitted by: Lauren Rodriguez on Oct 27th, 2013 at 8PM PDT

This month’s newsletter will take power and mindfulness, as it relates to leadership development, under its microscope. At Creating Space X 2013, we discussed how leadership is in a state of transition; that “wicked problems” or complicated problems of our age, such as climate change, income inequality, racial bias etc., will require a different kind of leadership to solve. This is a topic that most recently, UK actor and now guest Editor of the progressive New Statesmen magazine, Russell Brand, has recently taken to discussing. In this short soundbite from an Interview, he very passionately calls for a change in leadership and strategies to combat these wicked problems. We think it’s worth sharing!


This newsletter will examine the issues of power as it relates to leadership to combat these wicked problems. As we prepare to face the transition how can we re-orient our understanding and relation to power; how might we re-imagine power?

This month I have been taking a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class. This course uses mindfulness to guide meditation techniques such as yoga, body scans and Tai Chi, to bring more awareness to the present moment. At LLC, we plan to incorporate mindfulness practices into our staff meetings.  Being mindful is a personal act. We face our thoughts, nonjudgmentally, to come to a heighted awareness of our behaviors and physical reactions. Mindfulness and power are linked. If we can be mindful of our thoughts and behaviors, we can react differently. And we can begin to see stress in our lives differently.


On Power and Leadership...

The Interaction Institute for Social Change has been writing a bit on power this month. Cynthia Silva Parker’s article offers an interesting reflection on power to open the conversation for leadership as she writes on the contrast between our understandings of power. She mentions that although we tend to analyze power as a process and social construct rather than a fixed asset, as Beth Roy says, “power is not something you have; it’s something you do.” CNN’s Susanne Gargiulo highlights an interesting study meant to take a deeper dive into how the human brain deals power. The article asks, ‘Does Power Make You Mean?’. By lifting up the results of a recent study conducted by Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, Gargiulo reports that scientists have found the some correlation between gaining power and our ability to loose empathy.


On Power and Networks…

The Interaction Institute for Social Change, wrote an article highlighting the findings from a report published by The Aspen Institute, titled “POWER-CURVE SOCIETY: The Future of Innovation, Opportunity and Social Equity in the Emerging Networked Economy.” The article explores thinking on leadership, power and networks and the inherent problems with a winner take all mentality sometimes present in networks. Like at IISC, LLC believes that networks have the potential to create societies that are thriving and more equitable through information sharing and idea dissemination. As Jo Freeman in her article The Tyranny of Structureless-ness, we should remember the power dynamics and oppressive forces that have plagued out histories and be critic of how they reproduce on our current network approaches. And remember that “networks cannot guarantee the kinds of just and humanizing opportunities and outcomes that we seek.”

On Mindfulness and Leadership…

Mindfulness and leadership go hand in hand. This month in the Huffington Post, Laura Huckabee-Jennings describes Mindfulness Leadership as Fearless Leadership. The article discusses the need to strengthen our personal ecologies and practices to adopt resiliency and greater emotional reserves. Mindfulness can help us get there.  As mentioned in the article, “mindfulness is a set of practices that focuses your activity and energy on your higher objectives and state of being, rather than so much day to day "doing" and busyness”. At LLC today in our staff meeting, we adopted a mindful transition practice as we moved from one section of the staff meeting to the next. This transition included deep breathing and coming back to being present in the room. On mindfulness and leadership development, we share a resource that looks to train elementary teachers to incorporate mindfulness into their lesson plans here in the bay area. Please share with any interested teachers who are shaping our youth to become more present in our technology demand driven society.


Top Articles:

On Leadership and Power…

Title: How will you use power?
Author: Cynthia Parker, IISC
Date: October 2013

Title: Does Power Make you Mean?
Author: Susanne Gargiulo, CNN
Date: October 2013

On Networks on Power…

Title: Net Work Does Not Make Justice
Author: IISC
Date: October 2013


On Leadership and Mindfulness….

Title: Mindfulness Leadership is Fearless Leadership
Author: Laura Huckabee-Jennings, The Huffington Post
Date: October 2013


Title: Mindful Schools Training
Author: Mindful Schools Training
Date: October 2013


For more leadership news, follow Lauren Rodriguez on Twitter @Lauren_rodri!

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