What’s all this “leading with Mindfulness” palava I hear you say. As a leader practicing mindfulness you will gain greater mental effectiveness, so that you can realize more of your potential on both a professional and a personal level.
In 2021 I see we are now accepting that mindfulness will help us all in life, in business and with our self. For me it has become entrenched in my life, when I’m working with clients, when I’m out in nature, or with my horses and with my friends. Yet back in just two years past – 2019 the world was incredibly different. Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years.
Recently one of my business group members asked us all how we practice mindfulness. It took me a while to consider which practice I wanted to share as being the most beneficial. For me each of my practices assist one another, and I believe they should all be practiced from time to time.
Mindfulness is the ability to focus on what is happening in front of us right now and be present in the moment. It provides us with information from all of our senses, and when we focus on just one thing, we gain clarity, and then that allows us choice. So often when we are working to deadlines we become oblivious to what else is happening around us. We keep going in a direction that perhaps is not the best choice. Mindfulness allows you to don’t stop and look around, and then you have a choice which direction you really need to go.
Mindfulness Improves Psychological Well-Being
Leading with mindfulness allows us to create a well-being safe place. It helps in so many ways for you, and your team:
- Being mindful helps in emotional regulation and improves memory functions.
- It allows you time to reflect and consider the thoughts you are offering yourself.
- Research has shown that mindfulness has a positive impact on our physiology, psychology, and work performance.
- Being mindful allows us to experience more; of what we see, what we hear, what we smell, and what we feel.
- A study at the University of Kansas found that spending more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities.
- Purposeful breathing exercises gives us sensory awareness.
- Through the practices of detachment, focus and self-compassion, mindfulness can help people manage stress better and feel calmer. This also allows people to learn how to recognise the symptoms of stress and deal with them before it is too late.
- Enables us to perceive our world, our emotions, and other people without the fight-or-flight, knee-jerk reactions and have better emotional resilience.
One of my go-to mindfulness exercises is to get up away from my desk, and taking time out in nature. This could simply mean standing in the garden, observing the bees, the butterflies, listening to the birds. Or it could mean you take some time to have a walk in the bush, the park or a stroll along the beach. All of these activities can awaken the innermost feelings of happiness, joy and peace. Staying close to nature improves our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Frank Lloyd Wright had said, “Study Nature, love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you.”
It makes us feel alive from the inside, and we should not compromise it for technology, or social media.
The benefits of staying close to nature are diverse. We can enjoy the positive effects of connecting to the environment at all levels of individual well-being. We know that contact with natural light is therapeutic and has immediate positive effects on stress, blood pressure, and immune system.
I know when conducting leadership workshops out on the farm with the horses, the most common response I get from people is the benefit of being outside in nature. Then of course they have the benefit the horses bring.
Consider ways you can bring nature into your business.
- Enjoy the flexibility to access daily tasks whilst outside (thanks to technology).
- Choose to spend a part of our working day outside and in the fresh air.
- Have meetings in the garden or lunch at the local park.
- Take a walk outside with co-workers as you discuss plans, nut out solutions, and consider alternatives. Walk mindfully rather than storming around the block.
All of these will provide an instant boost of freshness to the mind, allow deep breathes, and help in reducing the stress and frustration that comes from working tonelessly for hours at a stretch.
Leading with Mindfulness
Leaders who practise mindfulness can become better at observing their own thoughts and feelings, allowing them to distance themselves from them so that you can make decisions based on facts rather than impulse or preconceptions. Practice daily mindfulness, observe the changes and then share your practice with others.
If you are starting out as a mindful leader consider these mindful leadership habits:
- Take breaks. Downtime prevents burnout and increases productivity. Promote time out routines within the team. Design a quiet space where employees can go to relax and refresh.
- Encourage cooperation. A culture steeped in mindfulness facilitates collaboration and connection. Listen to others perspective, reflect and act upon their ideas. Create a shared vision and work together towards common goals.
- Reward innovation. Have the courage to listen to what others suggest, and encourage thinking creatively. Keep employees engaged through information sharing so they’ll feel more comfortable discussing new ideas and experimenting with change.
- Listen closely. Give your colleagues your full attention during meetings and casual interactions. Make eye contact and ask relevant questions. Show that you are interested in what they have to say.
- Take breaks in nature. Create a routine for walking in nature. Encourage others to do the same.
- Care for yourself. Mindful leadership balances self-care and serving others. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and make sleep a priority. Healthy lifestyle habits will keep you strong and resilient.
- Promote wellness. Consider starting a formal wellness program that employees can benefit from. There are many ways to include mindfulness in your plans, from posting meditation resources on your website to observing a moment of silence before each meeting.
- Continue learning. Be curious and hold on to a beginner’s mind. Spend time doing research and taking courses. Be open to different perspectives and constructive feedback.
- Provide reminders. Daily business needs and frequent interruptions can make it easy to lose track of mindfulness. Create triggers that will help bring you and your team back into the present moment. You might hang posters in the break room, discuss during regular team meetings and program an hourly reminder on your phone.
Mindfulness can help yourself and others to feel more connected and fulfilled. Mindful leadership is a skill you can develop through meditation and hands-on experience.
As mindful leaders, we bring our whole self with total awareness to our leadership positions. It requires authenticity to be who we really are. Mindful leaders focus on the “we” rather than the “me” and realise that our biggest role is to create a culture of trust, care and expansive influence.
That’s why many major corporations are training their employees to be more mindful.
Practice 10 minutes of mindfulness training each day to improve your leadership.