Many people talk about a company’s leadership as the senior-most executives in the organization. Leadership actually has nothing to do with titles, whether you have a corner office, or where you sit at the conference table. Inherently, leadership means understanding yourself from an inward perspective as well as translating your own tendencies, strengths, and approaches into the way you interact, communicate, and influence others. And this understanding is something that can come through the practice of yoga—both on and off the mat.
Beyond the postures that typically take place on the mat, yoga is a profound, far-reaching philosophy and a rich, robust technology for personal development. Yoga is my secret weapon. My personal practice—typically less than thirty minutes each day —gives me the strength, poise, flexibility, and calm to lead with confidence in demanding and sometimes unforgiving corporate environments.
In the early years of our careers, we are measured primarily for our individual contributions. Thus, it is often difficult for emerging leaders to recognize that leadership is not solely about them and their ability to attract and direct followers; it is about serving others to bring out the best in the individual and collective group. This greater awareness is fostered in yoga. How can leaders unleash the power of their organizations unless they motivate people to reach their full potential? If our supporters are merely following our lead, then their efforts are limited to our vision and our directions. Only when leaders stop focusing on their personal ego needs are they able to develop and groom those whom they supervise.
I believe that yoga is an answer to highly effective leadership. The transformative principles of yoga have inspired and enabled me to grow and achieve more than I ever thought possible in my chosen profession. Yoga has helped me achieve good work-life balance so I don’t sacrifice the people and things important to me beyond work. How? Yoga is about balance—mental, physical, and spiritual. Through my practice, I am more self-aware, discerning, and honest with myself. I am more available to others. And I am better able to appreciate the moment and live in the present.
Yes, yoga can make you stronger and more flexible physically. But its ability to shape you off the mat—to be more generous, self-aware, and compassionate—are critical skills for becoming a successful leader.
Headshot © Vanessa Joy Photography / Blog Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash