We know mindfulness boosts our health, happiness, and productivity. But, did you realize that mindfulness can also help you become a more effective leader? By practicing mindfulness, we learn to pay attention to the present moment. We recognize how to keep our feelings and emotions under control, especially when faced with stressful situations. It also helps us remain present with our clients, colleagues, and others we interact with on a daily basis. Because of the tremendous benefits that mindfulness can have in the workplace, an entire discipline of “mindful leadership” has sprouted up in the business world. Mindful leadership will help you achieve clarity about what is important to you. You will uncover a deeper understanding of the world around you so that you can be a more successful leader.
What Is Mindful Leadership?
According to Michael Carroll, executive coach and author of several books including The Mindful Leader, mindful leadership is not about acquiring new skills. Instead, it is about unleashing our own natural qualities to inspire others. He believes that everyone is a leader. We need mindfulness to let go of bad habits and thoughts that make us feel stuck. These bad habits prevent us from being the natural leaders we are meant to be. The best part of this practice is that it can be done anywhere, anytime, by anyone. It is simply about setting some time aside each day to escape the pressure and noise. Take time to reflect on what is happening in our work life.
“A mindful leader embodies leadership presence by training the mind to cultivate focus, clarity, creativity, and compassion,” explained Janice Marturano during a recent Mindfulness Edge podcast. She is Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership. This non-profit organization is dedicated to training and supporting leaders in the exploration of mindfulness and the fundamentals of leadership excellence.
- Focus is about keeping our attention and avoiding the ineffective trap of multi-tasking.
- Clarity involves recognizing our own filters, biases, and expectations. Therefore, we need to move beyond them when we make decisions and interact with others.
- We can cultivate creativity in the space of our mind where we pull together information in unique and novel ways.
- We can develop compassion, which can result in acts of kindness as we recognize that we are part of something much larger and ourselves.
She also points out that mindfulness is not about clearing the mind. Instead, we want to start noticing what is going on around us. This way, we can have the skills to reach a win-win-win solution for all.
Benefits of Mindful Leadership
We gain significant benefits from practicing mindful leadership. With mindful leadership, we set a positive tone at the workplace and improve communication. Furthermore, we make more effective decisions and build resilience during challenging times.
Setting The Tone
The time we invest in being mindful increases our ability to be compassionate toward others. Studies have found that individuals who meditate show compassion and kindness to others 50 percent more often than those who do not meditate. We can harness these qualities to become a more effective manager, such as to better understand our employees’ perspective. Plus, when we are calmer and less stressed, our employees sense that, and will react in positive ways. Research shows that teams perform at their best when leaders are enthusiastic, uplifting, energetic, and motivated.
Build Better Communication Skills
Mindfulness can also build better communication skills, a critical component of successful leadership. Mindfulness improves our ability to focus on the task at hand, avoiding unnecessary distractions that can ensue from technology or multi-tasking. Effective communication requires presence and connection on a physical and emotional level so you can show your colleagues how you value their input. Having the ability to focus solely on what others are saying allows you to be more effective as you engage with and lead your team. Finally, mindfulness teaches us to pause before responding to a comment or situation, which can prevent us from overreacting in the moment.
Michael Carroll explained how we no longer need to be trapped by our mindset. After all, mindfulness helps us break through our traditional way of thinking. It also encourages us to see the world in a fresh way, beyond our own preconceived notions. With this wider perspective, we become open to new ideas when facing decisions that impact our team. According to Janice Marturano, being fully present with our colleagues in meetings helps us discuss issues with candor. Hence, we can reach productive solutions that we may have missed. She suggests that everyone take a mindful minute before heading into a meeting. This will help set our intention and open our mind up to the possibilities we will discover together. The practice also helps us develop critical thinking and creativity to guide our decisions.
How you respond to bumps in the road can impact your success as a leader. Mindful leadership shows us how to be in the present moment and to keep our emotions in check even when we face major challenges. By taking a more mindful approach to work, we can endure failure, change, setbacks, and stress more easily so we can lead our team to success.