'In Through the Nose, Out Through the Mouth': How Conscious Breathing Can Help Mere Mortals Cope with the Difficulties of Leading
Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities
Short Title: 'In Through the Nose, Out Through the Mouth'
Format: Book Chapter
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd
Place of Publication: Bingley
Pages: 221 - 237
Sources ID: 45486
This chapter starts from the assertion that leading is a physically demanding activity. The challenges associated with it arise from at least three sources: as a response to ambiguous 'wicked' problems taking the lead necessitates moving into unknown situations; followers' projections and the leader's conscious or unconscious desire to fulfil them create psychological and emotional pressure and leaders often work in isolation. These realities of leading create physical stress that can result in disrupted sleep, digestive ailments and over-reliance on food and alcohol for short-term relief. Conscious breathing is introduced as a way of mitigating these physical effects. Such breathing can halt the vicious cycle of feeling stressed because one is breathing shallowly and breathing shallowly because of feeling stressed. Additionally, it can reduce the sense of time pressure by introducing an experience of greater spaciousness and provide a means whereby the leader can access her or his 'best self' in meeting the demands of the role. The ideas are illustrated through a case study of a senior executive who successfully used conscious breathing practices to transform the way in which he led his team.