The Seven Pillars of becoming a Mindful Leader

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

Before you can effectively implement Mindful Leadership in your organization, or helping others becoming Mindful Leaders, you need to have a minimum level of present awareness and also have accumulated sufficient knowledge & experience in mindful leadership topics.

I refer to this foundation of awareness and knowledge as the “Seven Pillars of Mindful Leadership”.

Organizing the different aspects and dimensions of mindful leadership into this framework has helped me to better structure my personal and leadership growth.

For example, each pillar has a clear purpose and focus area, along with

- specific challenges to be addressed and growth goals to be reached

- helpful resources, knowledge, and information that can be assimilated

- a variety of tools, techniques, and methodologies to practise and improve

- the expertise of subject experts can be aligned with different pillars

- clear performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to measure and track progress

These Seven Pillars of Mindful Leadership comprise the following important prerequisites and dimensions of growth:

1) Consciousness Growth & Mindset Shift

2) The Mind - Clean-up and Upgrade

3) Toward Conscious Decisions

4) Cultivating your “forgotten” Qualities

5) Connecting with Yourself - Clarity on Purpose and your Mission

6) New Leadership - Living the 12 Mindful Leadership Principles

7) New Workplace Transformation - Toward a Conscious Business

Here are the Seven Pillars in more detail:

Pillar 1:

Consciousness Growth & Mindset Shift

This should be your most important and foundational driver for personal growth. Increasing your level of consciousness (LOC) and present awareness.

Have you ever started a diet with the goal to lose some weight, or put down an ambitious New Year's resolution, and then after a few days/weeks gave up on it?

You probably attributed this to lack of will power, got frustrated, and then forgot about it. You felt like a loser, negative emotions joined quickly, and then resulted in more devastating behaviour (e.g., eating junk food), which is also called the "yo yo" effect. Instead of losing weight you have now actually gained weight. And the negative feedback cycle continues.

The truth is that this is mostly attributed to a lack of conscious decisions, and a low level of present awareness.

In most humans the mind is running on a daily auto-pilot, and research shows typically 95% (or higher) of your decisions are made without you knowing about it from your subconscious mind.

Only when your level of consciousness rises, will you be able to overwrite these unconscious behaviors with conscious decisions, and seeing things with clarity. Focus on perception in the now, rather than viewing reality through the filters and lenses of your mind.

As your consciousness is growing, shifting your mindset away from the egoic mind to experiencing the world as consciousness is the foundation for becoming a Mindful Leader. From “lost in your ego” to becoming the conscious observer of your thoughts. For this you need to “Know Thyself”, becoming self aware of your body through senses, emotions, breadth, and thoughts, to ultimately become self aware of yourself as consciousness.

Once you experience the connectedness of all beings on all levels (e.g., in your family, at your workplace, in your community, country, the world) you will realize the importance of collaboration and striving for unity, and less worry about competition. This alone will have a major impact on your leadership style and workplace.

How do we measure progress?

- the primary KPI is your level of consciousness (LOC), that can be obtained using a self-evaluation process (higher LOC levels are desirable)

- the number of thoughts per minute (the fewer the better)

- the number of estimated thoughts per day (the fewer the better)

Pillar 2:

The Mind - Clean-up and Upgrade

As your level of consciousness is growing, you are becoming more aware of your limiting false beliefs and negative thoughts that are holding you back.

Identifying and reprogramming your false beliefs by methods of continuous inquiry. This includes developing the ability of proper self reflection, and total honesty with yourself to become aware of your personality (“Know thy Ego”).

You will need to learn about your personality’s strengths and weaknesses (behavioral / reactive patterns, likes, dislikes, abilities, habits, relationships). The goal is to minimize the number of “blind spots”, those areas that we actively hide to others and ourselves.

As the mind can be seen as a “bio-computer”, it is doable to simply erase certain behavior that no longer serves you well, and replace it with a more appropriate helpful behaviour.

How do we measure progress?

- the primary KPI is the number of positively reprogrammed thoughts and false beliefs

Pillar 3:

Toward Conscious Decisions

Our motivation is to increase the number of conscious decisions, so that you become fully in charge of your life.

While in pillar two we were building up a personality map of our mind, which included certain traits and behavior attributes, in this pillar we want to look more specifically at your reactive patterns, as they are happening over the course of your day (some of them even wake you up in the middle of the night and won’t let you fall back to sleep.)

These patterns are your "buttons", that someone can trigger. This can happen without a bad intention. Just someone talking with you, mentioning a situation could be enough to trigger a defensive or reactive pattern, over which you have no control when your mind is not trained, and your LOC is low.

Becoming aware of your unconscious reactive thought patterns, also referred to as your “pain body”, and replacing those with conscious & quality decisions. Taking on self-responsibility and accountability for your mindset and ALL of your experiences that you control.

How do we measure progress?

- the primary KPI is the estimated size of your pain body. We can measure the number of re-programmed reactive patterns over time to do an approximation.

- the amount of time it takes (latency, in minutes) to trigger a reactive response (less is worse)

- the percentage of conscious decisions per day (the higher the better)

Pillar 4:

Cultivating your “forgotten” Qualities

With "forgotten" qualities I refer to qualities that you have always had, but that are potentially dormant in you or you didn't know that you actually have them. As your consciousness level is rising, these qualities emerge and bubble up. However, they need to be cultivated and trained to become fully effective.

I'm referring to the following qualities:

  • Appreciation

  • Gratitude

  • Acceptance

  • Forgiveness

  • Empathy

  • Compassion

  • Honesty

  • Kindness

  • Love

  • Surrender

Each of these capabilities will be helpful to increase your leadership effectiveness and accelerate your personal growth. In addition, they are the prerequisite to cultivate a mindset of abundance and positive thoughts, which decreases stress and anxiety, and therefore promotes your overall health and well-being.

Although you are already representing these qualities on your deepest level, it requires effort and training to cultivate an strengthen them, so that they can become part of your automated way of living and DNA.

Think about how much time you spent in school to train your math skills?

Or, if you are playing an instrument, how much practise went into it before you were really performing well?

Now in contrast, compare this in the amount of time you are actively practicing "gratitude." You see what I mean? Many of us have not actively invested in training these particular capabilties.

The good news is that each of them represent a skill, and therefore you are able to work on improving them. As long as you are motivated and make it a priority to put in the training effort, you will see major improvements in your overall life.

It might be the case that you are already using some of them successfully on a regular basis in your daily life. That's great! However, even then with proper training you can further increase their impact.

Interestingly, training them in combination with training your mind to let go of false beliefs, and reprogramming your old reactive patterns, will further accelerate your consciousness growth. This means there is a synergy in pillars one through five, that they support each other, and progress in one will automatically accelerate your progress in the other pillars.

How do we measure progress?

- the primary KPI is a self-assesment assessment test developed by scientists from the University of San Diego in combination with the Chopra foundation, which can be used to approximate the growth of your forgotten qualities that are increasing over time, when properly cultivated while your LOC is rising.

Pillar 5:

Connecting with Yourself - Clarity on Purpose and your Mission

The most important question everyone should reflect on is:

Why are you here?

Determining your purpose, vision, and mission in life - as well as your essential values. It requires deepening the connection with yourself and carefully listening what is emerging.

Purpose is your inner motivation. The answer to the "why" question above.

Your vision is the "what" - you define how your ideal future should unfold with a clear picture that is aligned with your purpose.

Your mission then is the way on how to get there. It comprises possibly short-term tactical steps, and longer term strategic moves that bring you closer to realizing your vision and fulfilling your purpose. Note that there is not necessarily a straight way of getting there, and setbacks, detours, are expected and normal. No need to worry. The old saying "All roads lead to Rome" is right.

Your essential values are the underlying foundation of your purpose, vision, and mission. They are representing how you are engaging with the world, and who you really are. I describe a process on how to compile and prioritize your most essential values that can be used.

For example, trust is your foundation, and honesty is the most important leadership dimension. For this you need to “walk the talk”, that means living in accordance with your values.

We often lack the courage to live them and do not appreciate how psychologically important they are. They are tested daily under possibly difficult circumstances.

Values would actually not be needed if all of us were mindful all the time.

The alignment of personal and organizational values requires special consideration. Building up the triangle of purpose, autonomy, and mastery turns out to be your key leadership challenge.

But only if you have achieved clarity on your own values, purpose and mission in life, will you be able to setup a motivational authentic organizational vision that others will follow.

How do we measure progress?

- you have a clear statement (1-pager) of your purpose, vision, and mission, along with your most essential values