The Importance of Mindful LeadershipNov 22, 2021
If the last 18 months has taught me anything, it’s the importance of looking after myself; my health, my wellbeing, my work-life balance. In an effort to restore some equilibrium, I rediscovered meditation – 10 minutes of daily mindful meditation to be precise.
I’ve never been a ‘morning person’ and I envy those who can leap joyfully out of bed at 6am to begin their day. Typically, the alarm sounds and the moment my eyes open, I reach for my phone and start checking email and messages. I can sometimes lie in bed for 30 minutes or more just scrolling through my inbox.
So I decided to make one small change. I downloaded an App and every morning I spend 10 minutes just ‘being’ instead of 'doing'. As I got more into this new routine, to my surprise, I realised that mindfulness and leadership are intimately connected.
I began to notice some small, but significant changes in myself. I became more aware of how I reacted at work and used mindfulness practices to become more focused in my daily interactions. I found it to set myself goals and priorities and as such my days became more productive. Mindful leadership really was making a positive difference in the quality of my work.
Why does it matter?
Now more than ever, mindful leadership matters — not in some weird ‘woo-woo’ way, but in a “making you more effective” way.
I realised just how often I resorted to autopilot to get through the day; I was distracted and found myself going through the motions, rather than focussing on the things that really mattered – to my business and to my team.
Don’t get me wrong, a bit of autopilot can bring relief in a crazy-busy world, but an over-reliance was resulting in missed opportunities and mistakes: it’s all too easy to get too comfortable and then stop paying attention to the little things, the important things. Given half the chance my mind needs no encouragement to drift from the present moment to all kinds of weird and wonderful shiny new things!
Intentionally slowing down helped me speed up. I know it sounds odd, but those 10 minutes each morning has helped me to see what’s really happening, rather than working from my own assumptions. We refer to a process called ETC - Emotions, Truth, Choice - in our Leadership Masterclasses. What am I feeling? What is really true? What choices do I have? Mindful leadership has helped me to lead with intention, strengthening my ability to connect with others, as well as my ability to lead change effectively (and there’s been a lot of that!)
The 3 C’s of Mindful Leadership
Mindful leadership doesn’t just happen. We must consciously invest time and energy, focussing on - and learning - these three things:
Clarity helps us to see what is, to focus our attention on something specific — not what we expect to see or what we hope will be. Like every learnable skill, it takes practice, and we quickly start to see our own biases and filters and we consciously notice when our attention has wandered and redirect it.
Choice is about making better decisions. As noted author Sheena Iyengar says, it’s about being choosy about your choosing, being strategic in your choices. By recognising that we are all in this together and that leading with empathy is the only way to become a truly mindful leader.
Creativity requires space. Not only space to breath, but to grow. When we’re in the midst of what we call the ‘whirlwind’ – all those to-do’s, task lists and other peoples’ priorities, our opportunity for creativity is limited. Mindfulness creates that needed space for creativity and innovation.
As you start to make small changes, people around you notice big differences; your proactivity, your ability to let go and your courage to say and do the right thing.
If Mindful Leadership is something you’d like to explore further, we can help you and your teams to incorporate mindful leadership practices into your daily routines. We can help you create conditions for extraordinary performance; to burn bright instead of burnout.
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