Are you a Mindful Leader?

Monica Mathijs | Developing People. Developing organisations

“Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one’s reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.”

(William W. George, Harvard Business School Q&A)

When was the last time you made a rushed decision or reacted without full information? Can you think of a time when you were short with your staff because your mind was not in the right place? Have you dealt with stressful situations in a manner which was not effective nor beneficial to those around you?

For many managers and leaders, these questions can bring back a memory of a time when they reacted in a way which was not positive and may have led to a worse situation.

Do you want to be able to change the way you deal with difficult situations or at least learn to react in a manner which is more present, thoughtful and focused?

With topics such as mindfulness, self-awareness, empathy and emotional intelligence gaining much focus and reflect upon their actions and words.

The prevalence of mindfulness as a topic with all its uses and benefits, it makes sense that mindfulness programs and techniques are being adopted in the workplace, education system to the military.

When people practice mindfulness, the experiences and benefits are unique to them. The benefits include improved sleep, a sense of calm, a change in their outlook of life, how they deal with situations all the way to realizing their calling in life.

Over the years, research and science provide the evidence to support the benefits of mindfulness. Just to name a few of the scientific findings, the brain can be re-wired, stress hormones reduce, the happy hormones increase, memory improves and more.

How to adopt a mindfulness approach to your leadership style:

  • Find the time to practice mindfulness – Robin Sharma talks about rising early and meditating. Morning meditation gives the mind and body with space and sets us up for the day ahead
  • Learn some techniques to help during stressful situations or just to reconnect – simple techniques such as the 16 second breath or the listening to the sounds around you can help bring you back to the present moment and stop the over-reacting thought
  • Observe and notice – as a leader, how your people are behaving and acting is an indicator of how they feel, whether they are too busy, content, underworked or behaving out of character, this gives you the chance to take action steps and ask how others are doing
  • Listen with attention and practice active listening – next time you are in a meeting, learn to focus on the topic or person speaking, make eye contact, be active in what you are hearing and put down that phone. These simple steps show that this is important to you
  • Run mindfulness programs for your staff – raise an awareness of techniques and stress management tools to equip them with the means to deal with and handle a variety of situations

The next time you are in a situation where you have the choice to react, practice a mindfulness technique and see how things change.

Monica Mahi Mathijs is the co-founder of Reach Outstanding offering leadership development programs, executive coaching and assessment centres – Developing People. Developing Organisations.