Mindful leadership is a capacity that emerges when you learn to pay attention, openly and with curiosity, to what goes on in yourself, your team, in your immediate environment, in the organizational environment and in the world around you.
Great leaders come in many different varieties, but mindfulness in business is one quality they have in common. Mindful management, contemplation, and compassion can make you and your team happier and more successful.
Mindful leaders do not let all the constant distractions interfere with their ability to prioritize what issues are most important and will receive their full attention. Mindfulness in the workplace will help you to engage more in conversations and come away from the distractions that occur during the day.
That’s why many major corporations are employing mindful leadership training for their employees and leaders to learn how to be more mindful. For example, Aetna says their mindful management training increased productivity by one hour a week and decreased medical claims by $9 million a year.
Discover the benefits of mindful leadership and greater consciousness for yourself. Try these suggestions for developing your own mindful style of leadership.
Are you looking to become more productive? More efficient and focused? Come and find out the power behind mindfulness. As a leader, it is becoming critical to be able to become more aware and present – especially in our multi-tasking society. Come and learn the science and benefits behind mindfulness, multiple ways to practice becoming more mindful, and a couple of tools to take back home with you. This is an introduction to mindfulness for leaders that you won’t want to miss. Georgetown University Alumni Career Services
Developing Mindfulness In The Workplace
In mindful leadership training, you’ll need to focus on your inner self before you can change your external behavior.
Mindful management practices and training in mindful leadership will help you to lead by example:
1. Meditate daily. Put aside time each day to sit quietly. Focus on the here and now. Observe your thoughts without making judgments. Start out with brief sessions and extend your time as your concentration grows.
2. Breathe deeply. Pay attention to your breath. With each inhalation, draw energy into your body. With each exhalation, release stress.
3. Scan your body. Search your body from head to toe to find any areas of tension. Unclench your jaw and smooth your brow. Lift your chest and lower your shoulders.
4. Slow down. Create opportunities to encourage mindfulness throughout the day. Catch yourself when you’re starting to rush around. Pause and make your movements more deliberate. Think about the purpose of each activity.
5. Adjust your routines. Make ordinary tasks part of your practice. Chant while you vacuum or put on your clothes. Turn your attention inwards when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for the coffee to brew.
6. Seek instruction in mindful leadership training. Look for mindful leadership training and meditation teachings online or in your neighborhood. Community centers and yoga studios may offer introductory sessions for free or at a very low cost.
Leading The Way With Mindful Leadership
If you like what mindful management in the workplace does for you, share your mindful leadership training with others. Lead with inspiration and integrity. As you strengthen your communication and decision-making skills, you’ll be able to reach your potential and help others to do the same.
Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader | Marc Lesser | Talks at Google
Marc Lesser, the co-founder of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), has come to Talks at Google to share all of his insights, tips, and tricks on maximizing your impact, leadership, and effectiveness. In this talk, you’ll learn about the distillation of a lifetime of business experience into seven simple, powerful practices for optimizing mindful leadership at work and living a full and meaningful life outside of it. Marc Lesser is CEO, executive coach, and author with more than 25 years of experience supporting leaders to reach their full potential, as business executives and thriving human beings.
Adopt these mindful leadership training habits:
1. 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.
2. Take breaks. Downtime prevents burnout and increases productivity. Design a quiet space where employees can go to relax and refresh.
3. 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.
4. Promote wellness. Consider starting a formal wellness program if your company doesn’t have one already. There are many ways to include mindfulness in business, from posting meditation resources on your website to observing a moment of silence before each meeting.
5. Encourage cooperation. An organizational culture steeped in mindfulness facilitates collaboration and connection. Create a shared vision and work together towards common goals.
6. Reward innovation. Have the courage to think creatively. Keep employees informed and engaged so they’ll feel more comfortable discussing new ideas and experimenting with change.
7. Continue learning. Whatever stage you’re at in your career, hold on to a beginner’s mind. Spend time doing research in mindful management and taking mindful leadership training courses. Be open to different perspectives and constructive feedback.
8. 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 and program an hourly reminder on your phone.
Use the principles of mindful management to achieve work-life balance using mindfulness techniques.
Work plays an important role in our lives. As adults, we tend to spend the majority of our time at our jobs. And not just time, but our precious mind space too. Some of us get so caught up in our work that we miss out on cherishing the little things in our personal sphere.
How can we ensure that our time, energy, and attention is used in a balanced and effective manner? What is the best way to support ourselves in creating an effective work-life balance?
Try these strategies to use mindful management to help you achieve a healthy work-life balance:
1. Cultivate calmness and tranquility. In order to make wiser decisions and work smarter instead of harder, it’s important to be calm and composed. This quality can be cultivated through a simple practice of meditation.
At least 15 minutes of meditation practice, if performed consistently, can make a significant difference in the way we do things at our homes and offices. Being calm enables us to obtain confidence and to develop trust within ourselves, others, and the world in general. This powerful resource serves us in making better choices about how we spend our time, energy and attention, leading to better work-life balance.
What makes you lose your calm? What kind of consequences are you facing when you make decisions that are rushed and made under the influence of stress? What can you do to cultivate more inner peace at work? And at your home?
2. Become a master of your mind. We tend to pay more attention to taking care of our bodies than our minds. In fact, we often take our minds for granted. The result is that we end up living a life where the mind is in control of our lives instead of the other way around.
What we experience as life is basically just a creation of our minds. Even though it may seem that our destiny depends on external circumstances, the truth is that the way we perceive those circumstances determines our experience.
Being a master of your mind allows you to create your own desirable circumstances and to place them into a balance that works for you. Mind mastery can be achieved through a daily mindfulness and meditation practice, which costs nothing except some time and dedication.
3. Observe and express your needs. A significant part of our frustration, stress, and suffering in life comes from our unmet needs. When we work too much, or too little, we can end up neglecting our wellbeing. Greater awareness of our needs brings a better balance and more satisfaction in our lives.
What unmet needs do you experience at your workplace? What can you do about meeting them? What is your current state of wellbeing from 1-10 (1 being poor. 10 excellent)? What can you do to make it a 10?
When you’re balanced and can meet the needs of your body, mind, and spirit, your energy levels rise and vitality increases, so you can start living in tune with your values, principles, and purpose.
4. Respond instead of reacting. The highest level of mastery in mindful management and mindful leadership can be seen as an ability to respond instead of reacting.
There’s a huge difference between the two. Reacting is like being on autopilot, letting your emotions control what you say or do next. Responding, on the other hand, presents a conscious, calm, and constructive action that promotes resolutions of conflicts.
To respond means to be in control of your own thoughts and behaviors. It helps you to be in charge of your life and supports you to set and stick to your priorities, such as a healthy work-life balance.
An ability to respond requires you to be present at the moment as much as possible. There are many online mindful leadership training resources on mindfulness in the workplace and meditation that can support you in embracing the power of now.
5. Save some time for self-care. Our work, friends, partners, and kids all need our care, energy, and attention. But where does this energy come from? How can we keep on giving?
If you want to be there for others in a healthy and sustainable way, it’s crucial for you to save some time for self-care: to slow down, relax, and engage in pleasurable activities that renew your energy and restore your spirit.
Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.
Caring about your wellbeing and incorporating a few of these mindful ideas can support you in achieving greater levels of harmony in your personal and professional life. Which one will you try first?
The Need for Mindful Leadership
Why the World Needs Mindful Leaders | Matt Thieleman | TEDxWilsonPark
We find ourselves today in a world of always-on change, fueled by technology. Yet our common humanity remains a constant. To thrive in a changing world, we need mindful leaders, who can connect with others, and remain calm and focused while dealing with complexity and ambiguity around them. Matt will tell you he started meditating before he even knew what it was, and he thanks the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the inspiration.
Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things. — Lao Tzu
There is a new normal of mindful leadership training for mindful management in business for managers, and staff. Increasingly, we have a short-term focus. We have less time for ourselves and less time for reflection. Demands are increasing while budgets are shrinking. And our organizations do not typically emphasize renewal.
Instead of encouraging the practices of mind, body, heart, and behavior that support renewal, our organizations unknowingly reward behaviors designed to deplete rather than replenish our resources, leading to dissonant, the opposite of resonant, leadership.
Mindfulness in business, while it may seem even harder to practice under such conditions, is more important than ever for mindful leadership training effectiveness. Most of us have what the Buddhists call “monkey mind” most of the time. That is, our thoughts are like monkeys, leaping from tree to tree, chattering wildly and distracting us from what we are doing.
Managing our attention in the modern environment of excessive distraction and information overload is critical to our health and happiness. Psychologist Ellen Langer asserts that mindful management and mindful leadership training in the workplace can “increase our flexibility, productivity, innovation, leadership ability, and satisfaction.”
What Is Mindfulness?
The concept of mindfulness comes from Buddhism, and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has written about it
extensively. It is a technique that has been employed to successfully reduce stress and promote healing, most conspicuously by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
“Mindfulness is the process of deliberately paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way,” says Kabat-Zinn.
Adam Mentzell is the director of human resources for the audio publishing company Sounds True. He defines mindfulness as “the art of paying attention and seeing things in a fresh and nonhabitual manner.”
Mindful management in business not only helps us focus our attention, but may open us to possibilities and lead to better decision making. “According to Langer, mindfulness is a habitual state of mind in which old schemas are continually re-examined and redefined. Mindfulness includes openness to multiple points of view and a focus on process rather than the outcome.”
The Dangers Of Mindful Leadership
One of the dangers in leadership is a strong identification with a particular vision for an organization or one’s own point of view, leading to a sort of tunnel vision in which other perspectives and possibilities are not considered.
Why Mindful Leadership Is Essential For Success In Business
Mindfulness speaker and author Matt Tenney makes an inspiring case for why mindfulness is essential for success in leadership and business in this keynote speech. Matt helps leaders learn how to rewire their brains for better decision making, emotional intelligence, and happiness without adding anything to their schedules.
Schwenk warns, “Mindless identification may cause managers to think too narrowly about business problems and to focus only on information and solutions that do not threaten their image of the business. When strongly identified individuals face decisions, they won’t think about the decision from the perspective of multiple identities.”
Mindful leadership may expand a leader’s perceptions and lead to authenticity. “Deep knowledge about yourself enables you to be consistent, to present yourself authentically, as you are. We trust — and follow — people who are real, who are consistent, whose behavior, values and beliefs are aligned. We trust people whom we do not constantly have to second-guess … Through the purposeful, conscious direction of our attention, we are able to see things that might normally pass right by us, giving us access to deeper insight, wisdom, and choices.”
Clawson says, “When your center is clear and focused, you are more likely to have a powerful influence on others.” It is significant that in his list of six steps to effective leadership, “clarifying your center” is number one. Mindfulness in the workplace can also help ensure that leaders are taking responsibility for their own contribution to organizational difficulties.
“In high-pressure situations…many people point outward: They find reasons for their problems outside of themselves. They blame others or the situation and they look for excuses. Good leaders point inward. They take personal responsibility for what is happening and what needs to be done, even when circumstances play a definitive role….” Boyatzis and McKee suggest that leaders ask themselves, “What is my part in creating this situation and what do I, personally need to do about it?”
David Lee urges, “If you’re serious about improving your ability to motivate and engage your employees if you’re interested in making it safe for people to speak honestly and openly, practice cultivating mindfulness.”
Langer sums up mindful leadership this way: “Mindfulness in business is attunement to today’s demands to avoid tomorrow’s difficulties.”
Getting Started by Stopping
Mindful management is more about being in touch with who you already are than about improving yourself, according to Brusman. “You’re developing a profound sense of honesty — the strongest foundation for genuine leadership, which creates authenticity in your efforts to lead others.”
Boyatzis and McKee say that mindful leaders often feel power stress, which means “subordinating everything to your own wants and needs. Compassion involves understanding others and acting to address their needs … For the leader feeling the effects of power stress, the place to start is by courageously asking a few basic questions: What am I doing here? What am I out to accomplish? Is this what I want in life? Am I being true to myself? Am I happy?”
McKee and Massimilian agree: “For many leaders, simply stopping to ask the question, ‘How am I, really?’ is in and of itself a kind of breakthrough, a detour from the path of frantically reacting.”
When problems arise in mindful management, leaders may be accustomed to moving quickly to solutions. But Heider suggests another approach. “When you are puzzled by what you see or hear, do not strive to figure things out. Stand back for a moment and become calm … push less, open out and be aware. See without staring. Listen quietly rather than listening hard. Use intuition and reflection rather than trying to figure things out.”
A helpful acronym for mindful leadership practice is S-T-O-P, that is, Stop what you are doing, Take a conscious breath, Observe your bodily sensations, and then Proceed with whatever you were doing.
This spacious and mindful leadership training approach can actually facilitate organizational health. Tulku says, “When we recognize the quality of our feelings and emotions and come to see clearly the results of our actions, we discover that our very lack of awareness has contributed to our problems …
By working on ourselves through mindful leadership training, and by coming to know ourselves better, and then by sharing our growing strength with others, we create a base of support that helps to make our lives, and the world, a better place to be.”
Something we were withholding made us weak Until we found out that it was ourselves. — Robert Frost
How Mindfulness Can Enhance Mindful Leadership Qualities
While the concepts of meditation and mindfulness in the workplace are no longer new to the West, the notion of mindful leadership training emerged only recently. By exploring how mindful management is achieved through the practice of meditation, can enhance leadership qualities, as summarized from several Western theories as well as Buddhist principles.
Qualitative interviews with business leaders as well as discussions with monks reveal that only a few factors are underlying the enhancement of all mindful management leadership qualities. Strong connections between Buddhist teachings and psychodynamic concepts in the clinical paradigm were also found.
Mindful Leadership, Finding the Space to Lead: Janice Marturano
Talk by Janice Marturano, Institute for Mindful Leadership, at Wisdom 2.0 Business 2013. www.wisdom2conference.com.
Mindfulness and leadership
The term “Mindful Leadership” is gaining ground in the West and there are a number of recent studies on this subject. Bill George (2010, 2012), who is one of the major advocates of this subject, argues that the practice of mindful leadership training in business and leadership teaches leaders to pay attention to the present moment, recognizing their feelings and emotions and keeping them under control. He further suggests that among several ways to practice mindfulness, meditation is the most introspective way.
A different angle of the study was taken by Dunoon and Langer, who looked at the dynamic quality of mindful management toward leadership (2011). They argue that mindfulness in the workplace enables leaders to see new or different things in a particular context, whether in the external environment or in their own reactions.
They listed three aspects of mindfulness in business and used them as lenses to consider mindful leadership training while focusing on actions to make headway with contentious problems.
The first is the alertness to multiple perspectives which allows leaders to notice without immediately judging.
The second is the active self-reappraisal which prepares leaders to step out of a particular framing and take a second look at their own thinking.
The third is the attentiveness to the use of language, e.g., use descriptive rather than judgmental languages, as well as conditional rather than absolute languages.
Note that the above studies did not specifically study how mindfulness in business can enhance leadership qualities at a more detailed level beyond self-awareness.
Mindful leadership emerges from regular practice. Practicing mindful management in the workplace will enable you to cope with the tough job of being a leader. It will help you to focus, collaborate better and deal with challenging situations easier.
Mindful leadership is the key to turn your team from good to unstoppable. Additionally, mindful leadership training is a great way to control the long-term effects of stress on your mental, emotional and physical health which team leadership can cause.
By using these Mindful Leadership strategies at home and the workplace, you will not only improve your ability to impact the world by effectively managing your business and the people that make your business successful.
You will also model something essential to your entire work organization: the deeply mindful environment and an effective interconnected relationship on all levels of management between caring for one’s wellbeing and growing a wildly successful organization. To your mindful leadership success!