Being a leader is tough, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Practicing mindful leadership is the perfect way to become a better, calmer leader. Here’s how to start.
WHAT’S A MINDFUL LEADER?
A mindful leader is present, non-judgemental and tackles problems with clarity. He/She encourages focus, creativity, and compassion while in the service of others. On top of managing their own workloads, mindful leaders organize others, boost employee morale and promote productivity — all while managing stress levels.
WHY DOES MINDFUL LEADERSHIP MATTER?
Companies like Google, General Mills, and Aetna have created mindfulness programs over the past few years. This is simply because the benefits of mindfulness are undeniable — which is something we’ve delved right into in the past. Mindfulness is especially important for leadership because of its direct impact on emotional intelligence. Leaders connect with others and inspire change — a task that can only be fulfilled with a mix of intellect and emotional intelligence. As a mindful leader, you’ll be able to enhance team cohesion, collaboration at work, and employee engagement.
WHAT’S A GOOD WAY TO START?
There’s an array of methods you can practice mindful leadership; whether it’s an individual approach through meditation and breathing exercises, or changing your mindset towards teamwork. We’ve covered the individual aspect before, so here’s a more team-oriented approach to mindful leadership.
#1 ESTABLISH COMMON GOALS
Mindfulness is about awareness, both of self and others. By broadening your point of view and recognizing the goals of other individuals, you’ll slowly realize that your team might be drifting in different directions. You might be focused on completing a report at your desk, someone else is preoccupied with her presentation next week, while another member’s mind could be on a product launch months away. These disparate goals, without any commonality, make everyone self-absorbed and unable to connect with each other as a team. As a leader, once you’re aware of this divide, it’s essential to inspire unity. This unity could come from boosting a bottom-line, reaching a golden number of clients, or simply getting through the week. It’s completely up to you to assess your team’s needs, but it’s imperative to rally everyone together.
#2 OPEN YOUR EARS (AND YOUR HEART)
Being a great leader means understanding your team, which involves active listening. Mindfulness is about being non-judgemental and present while doing so. It can be tempting to dismiss your team’s thoughts as “petty complaints” and let your mind wander to your own workload, but this attitude will only serve to promote office-wide unhappiness. It’s time to open your ears to what your members have to say. In the worst case, it might actually be a bunch of whining, but addressing their concerns is essential to tackling conflicts and encouraging seamless cooperation. In the best case, their ideas might be novel, unique and vastly helpful — the best ideas are unexpected, so always listen out for them.
#3 GUIDE, NOT CONTROL
Ultimately, mindfulness encapsulates an attitude of calm and awareness. In leadership, this translates into a style of gentle guidance, and not heavy-handed controlling. Teams hate to be micromanaged: it’s intrusive, insulting and stifles their freedom. Being mindful is all about sensing the present, and adapting your leadership style for the moment. It’s alright to be more intrusive at times, but also important to let go and promote creative freedom — being a good leader is about finding a perfect balance between these two.
At the end of the day, whether you’re a CEO, project manager or even a once-off office leader, mindful leadership is a great step to boost your leadership skills and interpersonal relations. It’s simple and straightforward, so why not jump right into it?