A few years ago, I tried out my first yoga class. I was struck with the term “practice” that was used to define this activity. In yoga, this term is used to suggest that you are committing to improve and get better. My yoga instructor or yogini, explained that it’s not about trying to master specific poses. Instead, it’s a holistic experience where we need to take the time to learn more about ourselves and our bodies as we work to attempt various poses. In other words, success in yoga, and often in life as well, is a journey not a destination.
When I decided to start a business several decades ago, I did not understand the practice of leadership. My days (and nights) were consumed by learning about my chosen industry, creating and manufacturing products, selling, and finance. The business was fortunate to grow quickly and we were able to hire a few dozen people in less than two years. In the years that followed, I learned how to manage people in the traditional sense (executive team>managers>employees). This worked well for a long period of time, and I would occasionally engage a consultant to help us improve our structure or implement a few new HR policies.
Looking at Leadership Differently
At some point along the way, I intuitively knew that I had to change my thinking about management. It was at this time that I began the practice of leadership in an informal manner. I started to appreciate and understand the benefit of developing talent and nurturing their growth for the benefit of the company and themselves. Having said that, I really began to hit my stride when I found the right coach (or yogini) to help me grow into the leader that I have become today. For almost 10 years now, I have committed myself to this practice and have spent time, money and effort on understanding and applying clearly articulated leadership principles throughout the organization. This requires a deep-rooted conviction that people really matter and that as senior leaders we must develop the capabilities of managers and employees.
I still make leadership mistakes, but my practice continues because I have experienced immense joy and satisfaction in knowing that I am committed to a process that seeks to help my employees become successful in their careers and on their terms.
About the Author
Michael Eliesen is an entrepreneur, CEO and investor with over 30 years of experience creating and building businesses and relationships in the apparel industry. He began his first business selling sweatshirts in University and the rest, as they say, is history! He is a passionate leader with a commitment to promoting a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. When Michael is not busy running his businesses or spending time with his family and friends, he is involved with numerous philanthropic efforts and running, spinning and of course his yoga practice.
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