Why the Ego Is an Obstacle to Mindful Leadership

Offering our full attention with those we lead is key to effective listening and communication in the workplace. Here’s how the inner “me voice” of ego can get in the way, and a simple way to practice leading with presence.

Adobe Stock/Jiw Ingka

In-the-moment presence can be an awfully tricky thing for leaders to find in an age of multitasking and mixed priorities. But it’s also a skill we can’t afford to neglect. Steve Mizell, CHRO of Merck, told me that he believes one of the most critical skills for leaders today is to slow down and be more fully present with people, to really check in, and to listen more deeply. And this is even more important when some of what we’re called to do includes tasks that aren’t necessarily easy: enforcing a rule, giving constructive feedback, canceling a project, laying someone off. “As leaders we have great impact on the people we lead,” Steve said. “And sometimes we have to do difficult things. In those situations, it is imperative that we are truly present and take the time to get vested in our people’s current state of mind.” 

Amid challenges, however, it is difficult to be fully present. We are easily distracted. It can be hard to slow down when we have so much to do. And even when we are able to be “in the moment,” we can get caught up in our own stories and…