Tips to be a Mindful Leader
What am I as a leader spreading around today? As a leader, am I a positive, caring and inspiring presence or am I the opposite? Many leaders ask themselves this question- what does my emotional presence tell our employees about me and the company?
Research studies shows that when leaders are stressed and anxious, the negative emotions and energy are pass onto the entire organisation. This creates a chain reaction because the emotional energy of an organisation starts at the top and are passed down to the bottom line. Stressed leaders’ impact and influence their employees negatively.
What is Mindful Leadership all about?
Mindfulness is a positive and scientifically proven way of effectively managing stress. It delivers significant benefits in the workplace. Mindfulness improves work performance, decision-making ability, the quality of working relationships, and your effectiveness as a leader.
When leaders actively engage in the practices of mindfulness and self-observation, the psychological developmental state of the organisation rises, which shows in four ways in the organisation:
1. Hope – people have a positive aspirational and motivational state
2. Resilience – people have the ability to bounce back
3. Optimism – people expect good things and desirable outcome
4. Self-efficacy – people are self-confidence and task-specific
Furthermore, here are 2 ways on how Mindful leaders process their experiences:
1. They are able to personally separate themselves from stressful events. They learn to not take organizational threats personally, and are able to observe situations from a neutral position, rather than becoming personally engaged.
2. They are able to control their reactions to threats or difficult situations so that they can process their options, rather than reacting without thinking.
Research identified 3 specific areas of mastery that allow leaders to be more present, more thoughtful in their organizational choices, and more aware of everything going on around them:
1. Allowing – being open to what is happening without judgement of yourself and others
2. Curiosity – the most effective leaders have a strong sense of curiosity, and are open to learning more about all situations. They embrace the opportunity to gather as much information as possible before making any decisions.
3. Metacognition – this is the ability to take a step back to observe at a distance what is happening around you. By doing so, you become more aware of your own reactions to situations.
Becoming a Mindful Leader
Becoming a mindful leader is no easy task. The first step is to develop self-awareness. We cannot change what we already know and what we don’t know. Leaders can raise their own mindfulness by being focus and fully present of how they are reacting and engaging with people and within situations at work.
One of the easiest changes we can make starts with our breath. A 5-minute breathing exercise every day will diffuse reactions and emotions. In addition to become aware of our breath, there are many other tactics leaders can use daily to increase mindfulness:
· Checking ourselves emotionally before we enter a room or a meeting
· Taking a walk specifically to pause and re-center, also known as “walking meditation”
· Scheduling downtime to recharge
Integrating mindfulness into our daily lives is often easier said than done. Creating a healthy, emotionally safe work environment has never been more important. As with everything else in a company, this initiative starts at the top. But at all levels of the organisation leaders must remember they are always being watched. So, ask yourself again: What does your emotional presence tell your employees about you and the company?
BY FRANK KUIJSTERS
Director – Digne Consult Asia Pacific