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Mindful Leadership: Expert Guide to Workplace Leadership

Company Culture
September 27, 2021
Rad time: 10min
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Being a leader means more than delegating tasks to your team. It’s about making choices that are beneficial not only for the company but also for your employees. We’re going to talk about mindful leadership and guide you on how you can become a mindful leader.

What is a Mindful Leader?

Mindfulness. You may have heard it before, and it’s a pretty straightforward concept. Mindfulness is our ability to stay present in the moment, aware of what we’re doing and how we’re feeling. While mindfulness can be used in any sphere of life, mindful leadership plays a crucial role in the workplace as it fosters better relationships between leaders and employees and therefore improves business outcomes... 

But let’s explore mindfulness deeply and understand what it means to practice mindful leadership. Individually, mindfulness helps us connect with ourselves and gain awareness over our emotional and mental state. 

That said, it helps us prevent feeling overwhelmed or overreacting to events happening around us. Being able to gain awareness and control your emotions provides you with significant advantages when you’re leading a team.

With these skills at hand, a mindful leader can deal with conflicts without VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). These VUVA traits take attention away from the present moment and create additional problems and stress. Through mindful leadership, you can improve your decision-making skills, remove distractions, and also deal with conflict efficiently.

While being a mindful leader doesn’t happen overnight, with consistent practice, you can become more focused on your decision-making skills and conversations with your team, creating a more productive and motivating environment. 

Why is Mindful Leadership Important in the Workplace?

Author, Harvard Business School Professor, and former Medtronic CEO Bill George said, “if you’re fully present on the job, you will be a more effective leader, you will make better decisions and you will work better with other people.” And he’s right. 
Practicing mindful leadership benefits you as a manager. The benefits of mindfulness at work can also extend to your team as well:

Enhances employee engagement

As management, you want your employees to be productive, and while you may think putting more deadlines on their plates will keep them motivated, that’s not how it works. Mindfulness is extremely important when enhancing engagement and decreasing burnout.
Employee wellbeing platforms provide employees supportive methods, including meditation and mindfulness courses, to help them connect with themselves and reduce stress. However, more so, they’re able to gather data in real-time, allowing management to identify issues early on and take a preventative approach, saving costs on absenteeism and staff turnover while maintaining employee motivation. 

Dealing with change

Organizational change happens, and if employees are not provided with proper coping mechanisms, it can result in employee resistance and reduced motivation - two things no management team wants. 

However, mindfulness helps employees cope with change and reduce the stress associated with loss of control. By increasing mindfulness, studies have found lower levels of ego-defensive reactivity as it promotes objectivity, helping the employee adjust to organizational change.

Improve job satisfaction

At the end of the day, you want your employees to enjoy working in your company. If they’re happy, it’ll enhance employee motivation, which will increase productivity. 

Mindfulness does an amazing job of connecting employees with their emotional state, preventing them from making emotionally charged decisions. Therefore, they can approach conflict proactively and be more satisfied with their work. 

Employee wellbeing platforms empower employees to become more aware and in tune with their emotions by enabling them to identify the causes of conflict and stress at work. 

Wellbeing platforms also offer effective and digestible mental health foundations training without having to spend 2 days out of the office. This improves understanding around mental health and wellbeing such as how to tackle stressful situations or deal with unhelpful thoughts before they derail health and productivity.

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What are the Traits of Mindful Leadership?

Mindful leadership is about reflecting on yourself and seeing why you’re in leadership and how you’re leading your team. That’s easier said than done. Here are several tips to support you in being a mindful leader.

1. Lead by Example

As a leader, people are looking at you for guidance. Therefore mindful leadership is about leading by example. 

As a leader, you need to model the behavior you want your employees to evolve into. A mindful leader shows vulnerability and accepts failure, seeing it as a natural part of the process when achieving goals. 

If you’re a leader who does not accept failure or mistakes, you’re teaching your team that making mistakes isn't acceptable. While this may not seem like a big deal, it creates fear which hinders innovation and could push employees to hide things or even lie.

2. Recognition and Appreciation

While everyone loves getting paid, employees need more than just a paycheque. They want to know that their work is making a difference in their company and that their efforts aren’t unnoticed.

As a leader, it’s important to show regular appreciation, as it’ll balance out the constructive feedback that employees will receive at some point. Employees who feel a part of the company and are recognized for their efforts are more motivated and engaged in their tasks and aren’t interested in switching companies. 

3. Humility

People tend to think that if you’re a leader, you need to show your status. However, many don’t realize that humility isn’t a weakness or a sign that you lack confidence. Ken Blanchard said, “humility doesn’t mean to think less of yourself, it means to think of yourself less.” 

Being a humble leader means knowing your strengths and weaknesses and not being afraid to ask when you need help. When you’re open to feedback and constructive criticism, you can effectively make changes within the company, increasing employee motivation.

4. Communicate with Compassion

Remember the saying that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me? It was a lie. Words matter, and when you’re a leader, you need to communicate compassionately and mindfully. 

Before sending an email or having a one-on-one meeting, check-in with yourself and see where you emotionally are. This can help you communicate honestly and effectively and reduce any tension or conflict. In the long run, taking a couple more seconds to self-reflect is highly beneficial as a leader.

5. Balance Emotions

Practicing mindful leadership exercises is one way to help you connect with yourself, understanding where any negative emotions may be coming from. When you’re at work, many things are happening at once, making your brain overwhelmed. 

Mindful leadership exercises help you take a moment to pause and reflect on your behavior and actions. By doing so, you acknowledge your feelings and prevent yourself from acting out of emotion. Not only does this improve your decision-making skills, but it also increases your emotional intelligence, helping you to show empathy to your employees. 

What are Qualities of a Great Leader?

Meeting targets and goals play a part in a great leader, but there’s more to it than just that. A great leader is someone who inspires us, someone whose leadership positively impacts our lives. These are the two qualities all great leaders encompass.

The ability to connect

When we say connect, it doesn’t mean to wifi. Great leaders can authentically connect to themselves, to others, and their community. Great leaders who connect to themselves maintain their values and ethics. How they connect with others establishes the foundation of their work environment and culture, and how they connect with their community is their ability to see beyond their own lives.

The ability to skillfully guide change  

Being a great leader is not by force or control, rather the opposite. A great leader is someone who’s opening to listening and learning from others, someone who collaborates. By making thought-out decisions based on those qualities, they can successfully lead any organization.

How to Practice Mindful Leadership Meditation?

If you want to become a mindful leader, then you need to know the ways to practice mindfulness. Try the following:

  1. When ready, think of a person who you believe embodies a great leader. This person could be a leader you’ve read about or someone you personally know.
  1. Ask yourself the following questions: 
  • Why did this person come into your mind?
  • What is it about their leadership style that made you think of them as a great leader?
  1. Write it down. Write down all the reasons on a piece of paper. 
  1. Observe what arose inside of you. Now, you can read the list of qualities you feel make exceptional leaders. 

These qualities of a mindful and successful leader don’t arise overnight. These are qualities that are worked on over time and through experience. 

To help you gain further insight to add to your mindful leadership skills, an employee wellbeing platform can help you understand the needs of your employees and gain awareness of your workplace environment. It can provide management with data-driven support to identify problems and preventative and reactive methods to improve and maintain employee wellbeing.

Wrap Up

Mindful leadership isn’t going to happen overnight; it’s a long-term process. However, with the right mindset and supportive wellbeing tools, you’ll be able to grow into a mindful leader and make a positive impact in your workplace and overall company’s success.

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