More and more leaders are mindful. It’s even possible that learning the skill of mindfulness helps transform people into effective leaders. Mindful leaders are better for themselves, their teams, and their organizations.
You may not think of yourself as a leader, but you no doubt are. No matter what your positional authority is, you probably have some areas in which you take a leadership position. These are areas where you guide others and ensure important progress happens.
Think about your favorite boss or executive. What made that person so great as a leader? Why did you love working with them?
Perhaps it was a truly open door, the way they communicated, their clarity of vision, their ability to listen, or to accept real input and feedback without getting defensive. Or maybe they mentored you in ways that have helped you succeed. Mindfulness can help a person do all of those things and be that way for everyone they lead.
Mindful Leaders’ Qualities
Focused – Many think of mindfulness as the ability to focus or pay attention. If you are with a mindful leader, they are fully focused on what you are doing together. That gives you confidence.
Aware – Beyond focusing on one thing, mindfulness can also encompass open awareness of all that’s in the leader’s field. This ability to hold in awareness everything that’s in their scope of control helps leaders consider all factors and viewpoints as they work with the team to optimize the whole.
Patient – Bringing your awareness back over and over to the present moment is the core practice of mindfulness. If that sounds a little boring, you’re onto a key fact: mindfulness can lead to greater patience. Mindful leaders notice that everything is temporary. Even old pains fade into the background sometimes.
Kind – While many managers use fear, mindful leaders are kind and pull from the compassion and love that all humans have for each other.
Empathetic – Being able to feel into the situation of another person is something that everyone can cultivate. Mindfulness can help you notice the ways in which everyone is “just like me.”
Curious – Keeping an open mind and truly being interested in others and in the work you are doing together is essential to staying engaged and keeping others engaged too. This is part of being a mindful leader.
Even-Keel – Part of the definition of mindfulness is “without judgement.” That means even when something arises as very unpleasant – or pleasant – finding equanimity. Calm in a leader allows every team member to experience that everything is OK.
Obviously, everyone sometimes loses their focus, patience, interest and cool. Even a very mindful leader. The mindfulness practice is to “do reps” with your attention just as you might at the gym.
When you lose focus (or lose it), the key is to bring the kindness and compassion to oneself. As you notice that you lost it, there is no negative judgement or self-criticism. You are kind and patient with yourself, perhaps even bemused when you see a recurring pattern. Then decide whether you’re ready to be mindful again.
Kindness and curiosity may come naturally for you dealing with some people. With others who normally trigger a negative reaction, the reps to come back to center may come fast and furious. Being a mindful leader means you keep coming back, either way.
Be Mindful with Each Person You Lead
Connecting with every person you lead can be very powerful. A mindful leader works on those connections.
Starting to do that may not require that you do more than start with a self-focused practice. Leaders will find that the more kind, compassionate awareness they bring to themselves, the more naturally they have it for others as well.
Want more? Or want to be present with other mindful leaders? There is a great annual Mindful Leadership Summit, and there was a Mindful Leadership online conference too. Present Source can also tailor special mindfulness programs for your leadership team or for you individually.