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The Yoga of Leadership

Becoming a Holistic Leader

When we think about the qualities of an ideal leader, words like “decisive,” “charismatic,” “visionary”, and “resilient” may come to mind. So true, but Tarra Mitchell goes beyond the conventional terms and views leadership from a more holistic perspective. Here is her guest post on the Yoga of Leadership.

We don’t always consider how to maintain qualities like these. And by focusing on words and labels alone, the deeper responsibility of being a leader—in fact the very essence of the word ‘leader’ itself— becomes distorted, argues yoga teacher and financial services professional Tarra Mitchell in her new book, The Yoga of LeadershipA Practical Guide to Health, Happiness, and Inspiring Total Team Engagement (December 12, 2017). Often, the word ‘leadership’ is correlated simply with holding a position of power

In a more apt definition, leaders performing at an optimal level are awake, aware, and inspiring, Mitchell writes. They are resilient, have control of their mind and senses and can see life at a deeper level—thus inspiring their teams to strive for and reach their highest possible level of work.  They also do their personal best to serve as positive examples—including by taking care of their physical health, cultivating mental strength and resilience, and operating with principle and purpose.

To help leaders achieve and maintain qualities essential to leadership success while fostering team engagement, Mitchell has designed a novel approach to leadership growth and development. Leveraging time-honored techniques from the traditional practice of yoga, the book explains how, by taking care of their holistic well-being, leaders are better able to:

  • control emotions and manage stress,
  • focus and concentrate,
  • strengthen relationships, connection, and engagement,
  • think more clearly and decisively, and
  • make life-enhancing choices that improve overall well-being.

The book offers practical tools for connecting with each of the five interlocking dimensions, or layers, of holistic well-being according to yoga philosophy: physical, energy, mind, knowledge, and bliss.

“Connecting with each of the five layers enables leaders to show up at work happy, healthy, and vibrant, leading a team that loves working for them—and works with enthusiasm as a result.  Leaders with great habits of health and well-being have the ability to penetrate the entire organization with an influence that is highly scalable. As you take care of yourself, you take care of your team,” Mitchell says.

Specific topics The Yoga of Leadership explores include:

  • A balanced approach to taking care of physical health, leading to vitality, stamina, and resilience.
  • The five mental obstacles to growth according to yoga philosophy and how to overcome them.
  • Ways to develop equanimity in work and in life.
  • How to cultivate discernment and an open mind by moving from reaction to response.
  • Learning to lead through principle and fostering a principled workplace environment.
  • Discovering how to operate with more self-awareness and emotional control.

“Personal well-being is not only principle centric, but also a leading indicator of success at work and in life.  When the rubber meets the road and we have to perform as leaders, it all needs to be in check,” Mitchell says.

Mitchell’s book has earned high praise from respectable leaders. John Mackey, Co-Founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market, has said:

 “The Yoga of Leadership is an informative and thought-provoking complement to books on leadership. Oriented toward individual transformation, Tarra Mitchell shares a morally deep and timely message empowering leaders to raise consciousness through what she calls holistic wellbeing. With the integrity of an insider, she intelligently weaves together the elements necessary to become inspiring leaders in today's fast-paced work environment and offers a convincing case leveraging ancient wisdom, science, and stories. This book has profound implications for how we manage our days, weeks, teams, and organizations.”

I want to thank Tarra for allowing me to post this piece about her philosophy of leadership and advice for would-be-leaders. The thing a like about her work more than anything else is she addresses ethics issues in the course of defining what leadership can be and how to strengthen workplace ethics.

Guest blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on December 5, 2017. Dr. Mintz is a Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Visit his website to find out more about his services and sign up for his newsletter.