The Mindful Leader

#9: Mindful Leadership with Dr. Silvia Schäfer

August 24, 2022 Reiner Kraft, PhD Season 1 Episode 9
The Mindful Leader
#9: Mindful Leadership with Dr. Silvia Schäfer
Show Notes Transcript

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could make an inner shift that would improve all aspects of your leadership while increasing your happiness at the same time?

You can! 

Mindful leadership is the art, science, and a proven methodology of making this shift. 


In this podcast, Dr. Silvia Schäfer, a mindful leader expert for leaders, shares her insights on how to transfer yourself into a mindful leader, what it takes to be a mindful leader, and so much more! She also shares tips and tricks you can implement for your mindfulness practice.

Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Hi, this is Reiner, founder of the mindful leader and host of the mindful leader Podcast. Today, I have a very special guest here with me, Dr. Silvia Schaefer. Silvia has been in the area of leadership for quite some time, more than 10 years. And she's actually an expert in mindful leadership. And since this is one of my topics that I'm really passionate about, and I'm in that space also for quite some time, it's always great to have an exchange of ideas around mindful leadership, in particular with someone who's really deep into it, has lots of experience working in corporate and not just talking about these things, but actually doing them. Silvia is also a business coach for leaders. She's also a speaker and she hosts a podcast "Passion at Work." We'll put links for all those things out later in the show notes. She's on Instagram as well. So I think the handle is Silvia Schaeffer official. And so again, for this, we'll put out some links for it. And I think with that said, first, welcome Silvia. Glad that you could make it!


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Thank you so much. It makes me so proud hearing all things about myself.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Yeah, it's actually a long list, right? I probably just touched the surface; to be honest, there's probably more stuff. Maybe what we can do today is we want to talk about some leadership topics. But I think it would be good to introduce yourself a little bit more and share your story. And pretty much what got you here. What's relevant?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Yes, there are quite a lot of relevant things. I think the most relevant is that I'm more or less a master of change. What does that mean? For me, it's a master of how to change the site where I lived. I was born in a little village near Lauterbach in Hessen. Yeah, not so far away from Wetzlar. And then I moved to Frankfurt, which was a big change. You know, these little villages where every family has the so-called "Dorfnamen," the name which is called by all the inhabitants of the little village. I was the oldest daughter of the parish; this is what the house was called. And then I came to Frankfurt, where the people are very anonymous; they don't even know who's living next door. If you know, the shopping side of "Zeil," it's very famous in Frankfurt. There, the businesswomen and the businessmen are running around, and everyone is looking down. For me, this was a big change. I worked agile on the farm where I grew up; everyone knew everyone, there was always something to do. I chose a work for myself: whether it was in the fields or in the stable with the cows. I even stayed in the garage and repaired some tractors and trucks, whatever. But there was work to do, and the people did it; They didn't organize anything. And then in Frankfurt, I worked for a big company. There we had to know how to organize the work. You will have to delegate it; you have to decide whether the employee can do it or he can't do it. And for me, this was a very hard change. Also, I have the impression that on the village side, it flowed. I mean, the work comes in, and then the person gets a piece of work. And then the work was done, everyone was happy. They sat together and just enjoy the life. While in Frankfurt, one person is delegating the staff, having a look, control lots of things. Even the employees who got the jobs said, "Oh well, I don't like this, and so on." And this was, for me, also a huge change. Then I started to know how leadership works; how to work as a boss. Is it self-organization, or is it delegation? Is there someone who knows everything? Like, let's say, God. God knows everything; that is what we have been told in the church. But I think you can do a lot of things as a mindful leader. A mindful leader knows intuitively. I mean, they know what to do. And even if they haven't studied it, I think it's enough if they know their strengths and their team. And then they can organize the work. And even if they do not know what's going on in detail, the technical staff and all these qualifications, they can be reassured that the team will work it out. Because if they have trust in the team members, then it works like it was on the family side or on the farm side, as I say. And that's what I'm interested in. How can you manage to get the work done without people burning down? If you are in Frankfurt, you see all the people and sometimes they have exhausted faces, they walk a little bit tired. They have no energy and they have no passion for their work; They're just doing the work. And that's what I would like to get a little bit better even in big cities or in small cities worldwide.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Great. And it's also interesting: I looked at your education, you actually started out in chemistry, right?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Yes. I am a scientist. Yeah, exactly.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

So I think there's the scientist part. And then, you also got deeper into economics, right? All of the economics-related topics, but then more and more into IT.


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Yeah, I work in an IT company now. 


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Yeah, exactly. And so I see this transition. It looks like it's still shaping. And now, at some point, there was the thing when - And I think it's interesting for me to understand. Leadership is clear. And I think you used a lot of leadership already when you were in these different positions, particularly in IT. I think you even worked as a scrum master, right?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Yes. I'm an Agile Coach, too.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Exactly, Agile Coach. So I'm wondering about the whole area of leadership: At what point did you notice there's something wrong or something needs to be done? 


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

It was in my younger years of my life. Because I noticed that when my father came home from his job or his work, he needed - not needed, but he wanted to relax and enjoy a glass of beer, more or less. And then I saw that he was not in passion. He didn't have energy. He was not satisfied that he's done something. He came home and said, "Oh, well, Sylvia, I have no time and no energy to play with you or to work with you in the garage. I would like to rest." Then I said, "Oh, well, it's funny." And I learned from my grandmother that work has to be done first. After the work has been done, then you can enjoy the life. In German, it's: "Erst die Arbeit, dann das Spiel." First, the work, and then you can allow yourself to play, to have fun, even to lay down lazily. I can't remember my grandma laying down on the sofa or something. She always has to do something. So then I learned that it's very funny because with when I was a little girl, I never had the impression that I needed to rest and that I needed to fill my batteries, fill my energy back and so I just thought, "Well, perhaps he's doing something wrong. Perhaps he's one at faults, he needs to have another working area or something." Because if you are eager or passionate about baking cakes, then you should bake a cake. And that's what we did in the farm: When someone would like to bake cakes or take care of the household, they should do that. And if there's someone who love to drive a tractor, being on the field, and being outside in nature, then they should do this. And then I thought, "Oh, well, you have to care about your choice of work, what you do." And then I have chosen chemistry, to be precise, the chemistry of food. Because I wanted to know why the food is so healthy, why it's so tasty, why it's so red, I mean, for example, the strawberries. Strawberries that are red, and then you make the marmalade and the next summer or in winter, you have gray pasta or something. And that was interesting. And even when I worked in Frankfurt, I sat down in the shopping mall. And as I said to the other people, well, I'm studying the people. And that's exactly what I did: I sat there with an ice cream or a cup of tea, or a cup of coffee, or even "Ebbelwoi" (Apfelwein). I don't know if you know "Ebbelwoi." It's a kind of cider. And I was really studying other people who were passing me: Are they happy? Are they in the flow? Do they exhale energy? Are they able to develop their skills? Are they able to move forward and all this stuff? And then I thought, "Well, it has to be something to do with the talent you have. But also with my own being." If you understand that you will do something good for others. And this is what I worked for. And even as an Agile coach, even in chemistry, or in the IT companies, you can do something good so that the company will have an impact on it, and the others will also benefit from it. And that's what I call the passion at work and the mindful leader. To come back to the topic, a mindful leader, from my point of view, is someone who has the ability to grasp the identity of all the team members, and who's able to shape an environment where these skills can develop. And where the man or the woman is willing to perform, willing to give the best, willing to work with others, willing even to make mistakes or faults and is willing to make the whole world a little bit better.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Yeah, absolutely. I think that requires some emotional intelligence for sure. Yeah, it requires some - being there, right? Really sensing into the environment, what's currently going on, reading people, actually knowing how to interpret. And then yeah, putting it all together what you nicely said: the shaping; shaping the context, shaping the environment.


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

But the very funny thing about it is that you do not have to develop skills for that, you have these skills within yourself. And even young people, let's say, a little boy 8 to 10 or even 5 years old, can understand and feel, whether the other person is in this flow, or is that something you need to change? From my point of view, with all these school and university methods, we grasp it rationally, but also emotionally - Every person has such a feeling - but most of us do not have ways to get it out. Do you know what I mean? It's a little bit spooky, but if you really grasp the people, like a profiler does; you watch them, how they move, how they have the face, how it's how they behave and such things, then you know what's best for the people. You even do not have to tell them, you just have to tell them, I trust you that you know what's best for you. And with that mindset, if you have the trust in all the team members, the fellow students, doesn't matter if it's family or business, then we will have a better outcome of all the things we do because what matters to me is that in almost all companies, we waste energy, we waste people, and we sometimes waste money. And I would like that all the money will be used in a good way. All the energy from the people - I mean, if you are in the right place in your company, or in the right place in the family, then you get energy, and then you don't feel that you have to work anymore, then you are harnessed to contribute to the wellbeing of others.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

So is it the leader's task to facilitate the employees or basically the team to have all the right conditions to get into what you describe as the flow state?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Yes, more or less, but I think there are three components. The first is to meet the requirements, the KPIs, the OKRs, and all these billing stuff. I mean, a leader has to pay out for that stuff. Then they have to care for the team, that the team has all things it needs to work. Let's say computers, sometimes licenses, sometimes you need ingredients if you are producing some things. And the third part is the self-leading things. You need to have a good set of methods to recover from all these things, and that you can do your work, train, and learn with others. So it's these three things. Let's say there's a certain leadership method: If you serve all your employees but don't care about yourself or care about the company's EBIT, then it's not good because you'll only focus on one while there are these three things. So, you should care for yourself, care for the EBIT for the money, let's say the Business Administration, KPIs, and you care for the team. And only if you have this "trilogy," then you are a good leader. And then you can also lead in a mindful way.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Yeah. In my career, I've been through these types of leaders. So somehow, you recognize them quickly if there is a good leader. Intuitively, you know, but then, unfortunately, also the opposite. I mean, when you look around in your environment, would you say there are fewer or quite a few mindful leaders? I'm trying to get a sense of how the workplace has been shaped in the past, maybe five years. So do you think there are more mindful leaders out there nowadays, or do you feel it's still not enough? 


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

It's a good question. I personally think they are out there. But they are hiding. 


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

That's a good one. So what are they hiding?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

No, they are hiding. Let's get back to my roots. My roots are in the little village in "Vogelsbergkreis." And there I have the impression that I got all these agile staffs, the agile way of working, the agile mindset. I have the impression, "I just got it from the milk, from the mother milk." I don't know; there must be in another nice expression. But it means that I was used to it, but I didn't even know that this agile mindset or agile working; I just worked and I thought, "Well, it's normal." And I think with school terms; you get a fixed mindset so that you don't have the impression I can do everything. But I have solutions and if I got a problem, I take the solution, and then everything is solved, and so on. And also the terms of delegating stuff, the terms of one person being responsible for a team or for the outcome of the team. This is from my point of view due to this school thing and due to the Industrial Revolution, where we got the minimax principle and all these things. And I think now it's changing a little bit due to this blue coveralls. I think you, you probably all know about this high speeding globe, which we are living on. And if the circumstances are changing very quickly, and there are problems you never had before, or you never dealt with before, you can't imagine, then you need to go back to this agile way of thinking. And I'm quite sure that everyone can cope with these problems and has the ability to be a leader. But being a mindful leader is not very popular. So that's what I think they are hiding. Sometimes I know that people would just decide another way. But then they remember, "Oh, my boss would like me to have this and this and this. So I decide in the sense of the company purpose." They forget that the best is if the personal purpose and the company purpose, if they have something in common. So they are aligned. Often people work for a company and they aren't even aligned with the goals. Sometimes they don't even know the goals of the company or the purpose or the blueprint. And that's what I think - If we have more people who who are proud of doing their own work, who are proud of enhancing others, who are proud of serving others, so that in a technical way of speaking, they can achieve the goals, and you as a leader are only supporting them to achieve the goals. That's, for me, real leadership; if you just, as you would put it, facilitate the others.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Yeah, that makes sense. Now, then as you're also working as a business coach, so you're coaching these leaders. I'm curious, so if such a leader comes to you, and then typically, there is an initial conversation when you want to - I mean, one of the first things you probably want to find out is: Is this person coachable at all, right? And I think someone who went through this process of figuring out, "Oh, I probably want to have some coaching," there is already usually something there that - because I know many, pretty much most actually, leaders I've worked with in the past; usually, they all want to get better. There is a notion of mastering, so they want to do something. But often there is a lot of emphasis on intellect, on new skills, and all that stuff. Sometimes, they call it soft skills, right? There's some communication class; they send you to whatever class, but if someone really wants to grow and then figures out, "Oh, I want to become better as a leader. And now I heard Silvia is here. She's doing all this work with mindful leadership. That sounds cool." So I'm trying to get a little bit when you start working or before you even start working with someone; how do you know this person is actually a leader who has that potential to actually go through it, versus someone who's so stuck in their intellect? That they're not even coachable? 


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Yes. My answer to that question is that I think everyone is coachable as long as they want to understand themselves. For me, it's a lot to do with self-reflection and also with awareness. So for me, a mindful leader is someone who is aware of themselves, know what impact they can, should, or could have. I agree that some people get through the process very quickly. For some who don't, they feel stuck, they don't know what to do, they have no self-esteem, and they have no self commitment sometimes. But if you really work on yourself, on your self-esteem, and - let's say how you see the world, then you can easily change the perspective and you will understand your employees or team members, or even your boss better. So the point is, I do not check out if they are coachable or if they can afford the coaching or something. I usually check if I see a glimpse in the eyes of someone who is eager to research deep inside. Yeah, I read the book once from Chade-Meng Tan, "Search Inside Yourself." And that's for me the only reason I say, "Well, I take you for the coaching. You are eager to develop or you aren't eager." Sometimes people come to me and say, "Well, I will have coaching and I would like to perform for my team better." Then I say, "That's not possible, your team will get better if you perform better. And if you understand yourself." Because the speed of the leader is the speed of the team. Or the other way around: the speed of the team is the speed of the leader. So if the people are stuck or can't get out of their own mind, or their own thinking, or their own leaps, it's hard, but there is a way out. Sometimes it only needs one or two clicks, sometimes you need 10 months. It's the same with everything - if you do yoga, or if you do meditation, or if you do, let's say running, you need to train and you need to be aware that without training you won't get ahead. In coaching, also for me, it's a form of training. If you train with yourself - self reflection is also a kind of coaching. But normally, I give the chance to everybody. But sometimes, if the goal is not clear behind the coaching, then I often say, "I can't give you the thing you are looking for," and it's better for the coachee to look for another coach because I coach the things that matter to me. But there are a lot of coaches out there, their coach stress management, time management, all the things that are also very important; but it's not my stuff. Yeah.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

That makes sense. So I'm trying to understand the process when you start working with them. It looks like when they arrive in the first discussions, let's say there is this mindset of old leadership there, so they're stuck in all these old patterns and stuff. They know they need to change; you mentioned there's the gleams in their eyes, so we'll see if there is something there we can work with here. And then, as I understood, the output of this developmental process of coaching is the mindful leader, right? Mindful leader is the end result and if that is the case, is there any process based on your experience that seems quite successful to get there?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Yes, that's a long, long road. It depends on when people are with me to get my service. Well, just imagine everyone is a kind of diamond. Sometimes it's not really a diamond; it's a coal or charcoal, needs a bit of pressure to be a real diamond and then it's a crude diamond. My job, as I see it, is to shape the diamond, to polish it a little bit, to see it - let's say 4 or 8 shaped or whatever. And then it shapes, and it glows more and more. I mean, it begins to sparkle and then you know, "Ah, we have to shape here a little bit, remove something or add something." And then I would say the process is finished when the leader - when the diamond itself - has skills in, let's say, getting the dust off the diamond surface. What does it mean? It means if you are working or imagine it is a diamond, very clear, very nice blue or red or whatever. And then, as time goes by, it gets a little bit dusty, or it gets dirty. If you are able to remove the dust and the dirt yourself, then you can glow again and again. It's not that the surface won't get dirty, it can be all the time if there's something from the outside and will for sure get dirty or dusty. I would say the process is finished when the leader himself, the mindful leader, is able to make themselves shine again, when they're able to learn, when they're able to do well, when they're able to see the needs of all their team members, and when they're able to see their own needs. That's what I meant with this third point, self-leadership. You need to know what you need to stay a mindful leader because the world is spinning around so quickly and there's the risk of getting dirty.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

It seems that there is some process: possibly for some it takes a shorter amount of time and for others it takes longer. And then you said at some point it's clear when there is a need so that they can take care of themselves; self-leadership to develop themselves. Is there some criteria or something when you know now the person is pretty much in good shape? Or how does the person know that "Now I basically made that step?" 


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

That's a good question. I think the thing is that the mindful leader then takes my part, they take my job. I mean, if you work like a coach, you also - let's say you observe something like an observer, and you give feedback to the coachee. If the coachee is able to observe themselves, then my work is done and then they can give themselves the same impulses that I give. That doesn't mean that they are free for every development. It could be that they will need coaching in another area because sometimes there are things we don't see. But then I would say, "Well, you have a good self-reflection and I leave you out because if you travel down the road for agility or agile techniques, you can quickly adapt, being flexible, and on the other road, on the other side, you have the resilience; you have the stable things, you have all these components which make you resilient to changes." And these are two sides. And I think the mindful leader is someone who can travel on both sides of the road.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

And what you saw on average - just to get the audience some sense - is it like a year, is it a half year, or a year? 


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

It depends on where you start, and it depends on how much effort you put into your own development. I recognized some people are very quick: three months, half a year; they move very quickly. Other people need the same process for two years, but this doesn't matter. As long as you are aware of yourself and you develop, and if you take longer does not mean that you are not a good person. It just says that you have another speed. And even if you are very slow, this could be the best for your team. Because if you're quick, that is not for a slow team. For example, you also have to be aware of whether your style, and your type of leadership match with the team. For example, I know lots of teams that would like to have hierarchies back. And if they have self-organizing teams, and they can say, "Well, we organize hierarchy, we have one leader, he shall decide and we will carry out his decisions." It's totally fine for me. I agree that everyone is fine with that. Because it's very good: the team members do not lose energy to make decisions they don't want to. They can focus their energy on doing the right stuff. And I think this was also the original idea when these leadership roles came in. They were people who didn't want to decide, and people who loved to decide. And this is all well, I like to decide, I decide more. If you don't like to decide, you decide less. And then we share the workforce.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

So you also mentioned working with teams. Are you also working in an organization with teams? Because there is, on one side, a typical one on one work that you could work with a leader, but then the leader always works in some contexts. 


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Yes. Also, with team dynamics or with conflicts, everything is okay. I mean, most of the time, I say, "Well, you can be grateful to have conflicts in the team. That is a good sign that you matter to each other." Because if there are no conflicts in the team, it means you don't care.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Now, going back to something at the beginning. You mentioned that some of those leaders might have some of those beginnings in them already, but they're hiding. So you used to work hiding, right? Hiding these capabilities. Maybe because they may be seen in the organization, this guy would throw in these crazy things or whatever, right? So it could be that mindfulness, in general, might be seen as something not like high pressure, results-oriented, and all that stuff. So I'm wondering: Once the leader go through this transformation, and they get better and better at self-reflection, emotional intelligence, all the good stuff that happens, is the hiding that at some point, also a thing of the past where they get out of the hiding, and now really stepped into the role?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

I think so; I hope so. I think it's due to society. There are trends: something is in or out, like with fashion. Sometimes, you have to be at the right time. I think 10 years ago, these agile things, scrum, agile safe work, frameworks were really blooming, and it was good to be a scrum master, agile coach, and so on. Nowadays, it's not so famous, not so used. And I think if society accepts this mindful leadership and accepts that they have to be open-minded - you have to imagine you only can guide mindfully if all your members have a certain openness, they have a certain respect for others. If the people do not open, or do not speak openly about their views, about their likes, about the things that they hate, for example, then the mindful leadership won't work. And so, you have to care about society. For example, let's take this corona pandemic. Before, everyone said, "Oh well, home offers and those virtual conferences wouldn't work." And after they say, "Oh, well, it's not so bad. I can work at home. I don't need to sit in a plane and travel six hours to new work. I just put on the phone, we have a Zoom, or we have a team's meeting." And if these changes also happen in the society with mindful leadership, then the mindful leadership will flourish and grow. And then I hope that people will have more energy for personal things, and that companies won't have to refund a lot of money because they have wasted it for some kinds of uncoordinated workflow organization.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Yeah. Now, passion at work. You also mentioned at the beginning that basically people come home from work too tired and it feels like now they can actually do some fun time, some fun stuff. But actually, there should also be some fun at work, right? And so that goes back to purpose, right? Purpose and meaning. How do you help these leaders to find their way to discover or to explore, whatever the word is, their purpose, so they can do some meaningful work. But also, then how does this tie into the organization? Because that needs to be aligned.


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

It's very easy. You have to do purpose workshops, or Ikigai workshops. It's my favorite. You can also book an Ikigai workshop on my website. But if you bring the people, if you give them enough time to be aware that there is a state of flow that they have Ikigai, they have a purpose, and you give them time and the techniques to explore into themselves, then they will find it. 


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

I read it before about the Ikigai workshops. How can I think about it? Say, I'm a leader and I need to think about my purpose, then there is this workshop. How long is the workshop? And how transformative is it?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Well, I have an open webinar; everyone can join. And in this webinar, we just begin to work on the Ikigai. So you have an impression, what is it, for what is it good, what's in for me? And I think this is one hour or less, depending on the group. And then if you are willing to discover your own Ikigai, your own purpose, then it's usually a one day, it's a one-day workshop where I call it the leadership coaching day. And then you find out what's the core of your purpose, the core of your Ikigai. And when you discover this, it needs some time to be implemented into your daily business or your daily routines. And this depends on the speed. It's a mentoring program, it's more or less half a year, but sometimes a little bit longer or a little bit shorter, but it depends on how you work on yourself.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Yeah, it makes sense. So, in the end, it's also a combination. So there is one side, it's one on one coaching sometimes and you could say, oh, there's this workshop that can be combined. And there's the mentoring part of this. So I assume that it's also very individual because we're all different. And so you have to figure out what is needed. But isn't this what you say that for a mindful leader that Ikigai is one way to figure out, "Why am I here? Is it something you would say is a requirement that a mindful leader needs to know what the purpose is? And what is the mission? Is that something you would do? 


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Some people know it by heart, so you don't have to discover it. But if you don't know it by heart, or you can't feel it, then it's good to take such a method where you have a structured way that guides you through your childhood, through your talents, through your wishes you have; it's very funny. 


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

What kind of feedback do you get from organizations that had leaders that actually went through this program?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

They think it's much easier than what they expected. Because you don't need to have certain skills, you only have to have self-confidence that you can be a great leader. And if you know yourself, then you glow with your candle over the whole team more or less. And this is that you radiate a kind of charisma. And it's not the only technique. Sometimes, there are mindful leaders who are very shy, who are very close, who are very introverted, more or less, and there are also mindful leaders who are extroverted, who tell you what to do. So they can also be a mindful leader, because there's such a wide variety.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Yeah, it makes sense. Now, in the interest of time, we only have a few minutes left. I'm still curious a little bit about yourself in terms of your own, for instance, mindfulness practice, or ways on how you actually train your mind. Because to be a coach, you have to be very present most of the time, especially if you work with leaders that are not. And so I'm just curious about maybe some things that you're doing for your training. Anything that helps you become more aware and get your mind into a greater shape.


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Geater is not possible - No, I'm just joking. I think mindfulness for me has a lot to do with meditation. I meditate but not in a classic way. I mean, I'm not sitting on a little cushion and thinking, and not thinking, and all this stuff. I wander in nature, I wander around, take a stroll around the Main River, for example, or in the fields where I was born and raised. And I try to be aware of every single thing I see. It can be a butterfly, it can be raindrops, it can be everything. That's what I do. And then I try to get another perspective, which means, for example, I read books, or I listen to audio books, and other books, I normally read. So just to get to know how the other way feels; sometimes poetry, sometimes history or even, I'm very eager to know all these innovative IT gadgets they have. That's very fun. And then I often try to feel into myself and try to figure out what's the thing that helps me best in the current situation. And then I try to give myself exactly that thing. If it's a cup of coffee, I take a cup of coffee. If, for example, it is half a day off from work, I try to figure out if it's possible. Sometimes, it's a massage from cool people, and sometimes, it's only to rest for 10 minutes. And that's, for me, a kind of awareness practice and mindful practice. And I would also give the hints that if you, yourself, do the best for you, then the others will do the same.


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Very good. So part of the training, so to speak, is awareness training. It is like walking in nature, being there for you.


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

That's not part of the training. I usually feel what the coachee needs. And I do not say, "Well, you need a stroll in nature."


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

No, what I was saying is for you, right? Part of your training. What you're doing is basically meditating in the form of being in nature, right? And that raises awareness and that helps you actually become more aware. And then of course, people you work with are all different, they may need different things.


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

But you have to make the coachees feel what's good for them. It's not that I say, "If you feel stuck in your work or if you are not the mindful leader, please do this and that and then you will automatically get the result." I just would like to make it clear. I really need the feedback from the coachees. Sometimes they tell me, "Silvia, that was completely bullshit." And then I say, "Well, that's a good result. Now we know that was the wrong way. We can focus on the right way."


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

And that brings me to the last question, which is some small advice or tip you would give to someone listening here in the audience because there's lots of tech leaders listening to the podcast. They might be in a situation where there might be some opening, and they want to get started becoming a mindful leader. How would you encourage them to get started? Any ideas?


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

I think a good way is self-care, a little bit of self-love, perhaps, but it's too much. I think, if you care about your batteries and establish, let's say, a point when you know, "This is too much, I have to take care of my energy." And you know, that point and then there's a good start because then you can avoid the crash of the system. What does that mean? If you have a computer, for example, and the battery goes lower, and lower and lower, and at some point, it'll go into the standby mode. "Well, I'm going to standby, you can't do any more, I'm going to stand by." And for your personal energy level - you know when you go into this standby mode and when to get the charger, more or less, then this is the first step. And everything which comes past this step is only growing. You should think about: "How can I get more energy? What do I need to have the batteries full all the time?"


Dr. Reiner Kraft  

Very good. That's inspiring! We'll make sure that there will be some links in the show notes to your website, Instagram, and all those different sources, like the podcast, silviaschaefer.com. So it's all there. And I would say, at this point, we can conclude the podcast and I definitely thank you for being here and sharing a lot of good ideas on this topic.


Dr. Silvia Schäfer  

Thank you for the invitation.