In my career, I started by managing people. In reality, I wasn’t really managing people but I had a seat at the table in our local leadership team. Learning what the difference between managing and leading was crucial for my change. This is my journey on how to become a peaceful and calm leader.
My career started in the late ’90s in the trading business. Back then you had to yell loud and often. As a manager, you needed to people to listen to you so things got done. As a female the more you demanded of people the better or at least I thought. Those early years really I was a bitch with a smile on my face. Not as bad as the move “Devil Wears Prada” but close. You didn’t want to be the one that got ran over or taken advantage of.
Managing people with fear got results. Being on edge in the trading business was good and if you wanted anyone that was under you to learn that way. Growing up I was taught to be humble, be honest and be nice to everyone. Doing these things worked for me in my career but I had to learn to adjust at times. I was nice to everyone unless they didn’t do what they were supposed to or the way I wanted them to.
What Kind of Leader?
Fast forward to mid-2000s when I was asked if I wanted to lead people. Huh, I thought I was with the title I had. My company had me start working with a business coach. One of the first questions he asked was what kind of a leader do you want to be. I said, ” A successful one” Not exactly what he was looking for. He gave me homework to write down what leaders I appreciated and what I liked about them. This brought on more homework on who influenced my life. After lots of discussion and work, I came up with “I wanted to be a Peaceful and Calm Leader”
Let’s be honest… I was the furthest from being this that there could be. People around me were giving me feedback that I wasn’t a Peaceful and Calm Leader.
Who Inspired You?
My coach asked me who inspired me to say this. Mother Theresa and my Grandmother’s. When I said Mother Theresa there was a large pause of silence on the other end of the phone so he wouldn’t burst out laughing at me. Truly, these women showed calmness during the toughest times and I admired that.
Mother Theresa would bring peace to those in pain and need. Mother Teresa was a true servant leader and I wanted to learn how to incorporate some of her leadership traits. https://www.biography.com/religious-figure/mother-teresa
My Grandmothers would sit at the kitchen table with the chaos going on all around them and be calm and peaceful. Now, what was actually happening in their mind who knows but they were peaceful and calm. Most of the time they would just smile.
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Mother Teresa
Peaceful and Calm Leader
Neither of these women flaunted power. They lead by just being there. Leadership was shown with poise, peaceful and calmness and it impacted people. I wanted to stop being the nose down the hard-working person who overacted and didn’t listen well. My want was to be able to lead a team with peace and calm even in the worst or most chaotic of times. My heart and kindness are nowhere near like Mother Teresa but I wanted to impact people.
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” Mother Teresa
Servant-leadership is a state of mind and not a way of being. Learning this difference was key. The true measure of being a servant-leader “will be the positive growth of the people she leads.” Servant leadership begins with the desire to change oneself and that is what I set out to do.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.“ Mother Teresa
So how did I do this? The first was to create cues to have these women come into my mind when I started to feel like I was going to overreact and not act in a calm and peaceful leader. I bought a bracelet with a saying on it that reminded me of my Grandmother’s. I wore this bracelet for 2 years straight. In leadership team meetings I would pinch the bracelet if something was triggering me or to prepare my thoughts well before I spoke.
At the beginning of my career, you talked a lot at times to act like you knew what you were doing or to confuse someone. Now I wanted to be better spoken and not have diarrhea of the mouth. Even in the board room, it was important to start showing my peers what I wanted my new style to be like. My boss agreed to give me a signal if I was going off the deep end. The signal was simple.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Teresa
My questioning skills needed work. When my team needed my help I would pinch that bracelet and instead of going into the problem-solving mode I would ask them questions. Questions that helped them think through the problem. Questions helped me calm my thoughts and brain and gave me the ability to collect myself. I worked at getting tasks off my plate so I was ready when somebody needed to talk to me so I was more available. This helped me become the Peaceful & Calm leader as I was more present and people could tell I was calmer and not on the edge which helped all involved.
Journey Peaceful and Calm Leader Continues
The process of becoming a Peaceful and Calm Leader wasn’t easy and it is not done. This is something I have to work on every day but I can tell you that I have made great strides. My favorite part of my job isn’t trading anymore it’s being present for people and my team. When the stress is high and I am not taking good care of myself I put my bracelet back on as I know I am on the edge of triggers.
Tips to Become a Peaceful & Calm Leader
Focus on One Person at a Time
Be determined, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. …
Listen Respectfully to What others have to say
Accept others and Empathize with them
Be Aware and Perceptive
Build Community in the Workplace