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A beacon in the mindfulness mist Not all books on psychology’s hottest topic are created equal, finds Liz Mellon

Still Moving: How to Lead Mindful Change Deborah Rowland Wiley 2017 bit.ly/ stillmovingbook

The key finding is Let me start this review with a that mindfulness alone – confession. I have always had staying calm, connected a soft spot for anthropologists. and resourceful in It seems to me that the challenging circumstances quiet practice of observing – is insufficient. It has in order to understand, to be married with the without interfering and capacity to see the world thus changing what is being systemically. This is not observed, has to be one of systems thinking, but life’s greater capabilities. And perceiving and understanding Deborah Rowland uses her a large complex system, anthropological background especially the ability to tune to great effect in the research into the emotional climate underpinning this book. of an organization. The There is a danger that her book alternates between work will get lost among stepping back to the original all the books published on four behaviours, and mindfulness in the last unpacking and linking the five years (there are over two mindfulness capabilities 23,000 titles out there (staying present and curious, today, not forgetting the and intentional responding) colouring books). and the two systemic ones I hope it doesn’t. Why? (tuning into the system, and First, because this builds on acknowledging the whole) to Rowland’s earlier research, The key finding is that those behaviours. Rowland where she discovered mindfulness alone – combines the art of doing four actions or behaviours staying calm in challenging with the art of being – practised by successful circumstances – is insufficient both essential, in my view, leaders of change. This to leading, let alone is important because her leading change. current research is not I was particularly intrigued by the two systemic jumping on any mindfulness bandwagon. In capabilities, because these require the leader to use Sustaining Change (2008), she and Malcolm Higgs the emotion they are feeling – not as an individual also found two complementary inner states reflection of their own personal drama – but as a – self-awareness and egoless intention – that clue to interpret how the system is operating or accompanied the four behaviours. Still Moving even projecting on to them. I was pleased to see now expands those inner states from two to four, a core finding from my own leadership research through more empirical research, including – the capacity of being comfortable in discomfort stepping back into the corporate world to run (Inside the Leader’s Mind, 2011) – reflected in two large change projects herself. In addition, Rowland’s finding that systemic insight requires her research moves beyond understanding how the leader to be comfortable with not being mindfulness can support the individual leader comfortable. The more that research uncovers and by reducing stress and enhancing wellbeing, to reconfirms important fundamentals, the better the drawing a direct link between mindfulness and guide we can offer leaders to be at their best. the successful leadership of change. This takes us This book is fun to read, beautifully written and beyond self-help and into the highly useful realm packed full of business stories. of organizational transformation. Q3 2017 Dialogue

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Dialogue Q3 2017