True leader has no followers: Fred Kofman

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Fred Kofman, Philosopher and Vice-President at LinkedIn In his talk titled ‘Journey to Mindful leadership’, Fred Kofman, Philosopher and Vice-President at LinkedIn, said that a true leader is one that reached the goalpost first, while all others arrive there later. “The leader is not you, it’s the purpose,” he …

Fred Kofman, Philosopher and Vice-President at LinkedIn

In his talk titled ‘Journey to Mindful leadership’, Fred Kofman, Philosopher and Vice-President at LinkedIn, said that a true leader is one that reached the goalpost first, while all others arrive there later.

“The leader is not you, it’s the purpose,” he said.

Speaking on the final day of the three-day World Government Forum in Dubai, Kofman said: “The most important factor for success is to delay gratification.”

He outlined four distinct differences between mindful leadership and mindless leadership.

1. Mindlessness is when you want to play victim. Mindfulness is to take responsibility for your actions.

2. Mindless leadership is to think it’s your goal. Mindful leadership is to believe the goal is to work towards a shared goal.

3. Mindless leaders tell other people to say what is right. Mindful leadership is withholding the desire to tell people what to do, and to evoke internal commitment.

4. Mindless leaders are trapped by their ego. Mindful leaders understand they are part of the team.

He urged the audience, comprising of delegates from global governments and senior officials from the corporate sector to not make these mistakes while leading their countries, ministries, corporates and departments.

“Don’t make these mistakes, be a mindful leader,” he said.

“Mindless leadership is to say they did it, but mindful leadership is to take responsibility for whatever’s happened,” he said.

“It isn’t what happens, it is how you respond to what happened to you” that matters, he said.

“Selfishness and ego are what drives people mindless,” he noted.

Kofman suggested that a single player cannot achieve excellence alone in a team sport. “It’s not you, it’s the team you play for,” he said. “Being a boss always fail. Carrots and incentives do not always work,” he said.

“The difference between a boss and a leader is that the boss will make people do things, a leader will make people want to do things,” he said.

“If you want to get best out of people, you can’t boss around,” he told the audience.

“Leadership is about evoking the internal commitment of the people.

“Mindful leadership is realising that 90 per cent of people’s energy is love and commitment, and only 10 per cent is compliance.

“Leadership is not knowing what to do, or telling people what to do, but inspiring people to do.

“A true leader has no followers,” he said.

“If you have followers, you are not a leader,” he said, causing the audience to pause and ponder his words.

“A true leader is the first one to the goal,” he explained. The leader is not you, it’s the purpose,” he said.

“Meditating is like taking your mind to the gym,” Kofman suggested.

“Gratitude is the most important factor for happiness.

“Mindfulness is thinking long term.”


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