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The Surprising Power of “Slow and Present” Leadership

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” — Jeremiah 6:16

One of the great leaders I had the privilege to coach over the last few years has a personal value he calls "Cielo Way." Cielo Way is actually the name of a street high up on a hillside in the town where he lives. Whenever he rides his bike up there, his mind goes quiet and his soul expands into the open air. From the shoulder of the road, he can see his entire city spread before him, and the rolling countryside beyond that all the way to the horizon. That winding road set high on a hill represents for him a similar still point he cultivates within himself as a leader.

In our increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world (the now infamous VUCA), he understands that the real secret to navigating leadership isn't speed, but stillness...not hustle, but presence. In a world where everyone is frantically racing from one thing to the next, it’s the leader who's standing still above it all that can see the way forward.

Leaders often become infatuated with the latest business strategies and technology. We love to snatch up every new app or system that promises to help us improve our efficiency and speed up our lives. But the richest vein of untapped potential in leadership today doesn't lie in technology or in anything like that. It lies in the leaders themselves. Rather than focus on augmenting their leadership with technology, the best leaders I know focus on expanding and deepening these capacities within themselves:

  • to be fully present and at peace in the midst of chaos,

  • to discern the path forward from a place of deep wisdom, not just from their analytical mind, and

  • to embody the call of leadership not just strategically, but wholistically—understanding that the decisions they make impact not only the bottom line, but also the planet, society, and humanity as a whole.

Cultivating a growth mindset as a leader today isn’t just about learning new systems or adopting new technologies. It’s about intentionally developing the potential within yourself to rise above the VUCA landscape with a wisdom and equanimity that allows you to see a way forward that is Good, and True, and Beautiful.

How are you developing your capacity for stillness and presence?

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