Hey there! You know how some days at work you’re just “there”? Like, your body’s in the office, but your mind’s completely elsewhere – maybe on a beach somewhere?
I know that feeling well. I had a boss once say to me, “Simon, when you are on, there is no one like you. But, when you are off, who knows where you are.”
Want to be a different kind of leader, be in the present moment – one who’s not just physically present but also emotionally and mentally? That’s what you will be when you practice mindful leadership.
Picture this: You walk into work, and instead of diving straight into emails and meetings, you take a moment to breathe, center yourself, and set your intentions for the day. I know, I know, a lot of you suddenly went, “Well, this sounds a little woo woo.” But it’s powerful. You’re a leader who cares, listens, and makes thoughtful decisions. Mindful leadership practices help you stay calm and increase your resilience.
So I promise you, this isn’t some “woo-woo” BS. It’s practical, doable, and transformative for everyone around you. Your team will feel it, your clients will notice it, and even your family will appreciate the more “present” you. You may find your team joins in with you.
So, are you in? Ready to explore a new, more mindful way of leading? Excellent, because we’re diving in headfirst, and you’re coming with us!
The Pillars of Mindful Leadership
Many say they are self-aware, but very few are. This has been a hard lesson for me. You will know you are when you snap at someone and then think, “Whoa, where did that come from?” I am a master at this; it has taken decades to get here, though.
When you have the ability to reflect in the moment and find clarity on why you did something in a certain way, you have moved in the direction of being fully present. Trust me, this will make a huge positive difference to you and your team’s lives.
Being self-aware doesn’t mean you have to meditate for hours or keep a diary (although, if that’s your jam, go for it! I try to). It’s more about tuning into your emotions and thoughts – knowing what makes you tick, what triggers you, and what behaviors it causes.
These behaviors are not new to you, you have built them over a lifetime, so you may need to dig deep to find that trigger. Trust me, it’s not easy.
When you’re self-aware, you’re not just a better leader; you are a better human. The compassion and confidence you will show in the workplace will give everyone a sense of calm (and help with your stress levels – something I seek to do daily).
Having the skills to catch yourself before you snap at a team member or realize why a particular project is making you anxious. It’s like having a cheat sheet for life.
Wisdom and Self-Mastery
I know “wisdom” sounds like something from a fortune cookie, but if it worked for Marcu Aurelius and the Stoics, it’s important.
Wisdom is about something other than knowing all the answers but learning how to find them. Many leaders feel like they have to know everything and respond like an expert. Mindful leaders focus on the job and the person. They create excellence by giving their full attention to the emotions they are experiencing.
Leadership excellence is the ability to look at a tricky situation and think, “How can we tackle this in a better way that’s fair to everyone?” A great leader will look at the bigger picture and look to their colleagues and employees for the answers they don’t know.
Self-mastery is the next level up. It’s about not letting your impulses or moods dictate your actions. Ever had a boss who was all over the place, mood-wise? Not fun, right? Self-mastery helps you be the steady hand that guides the ship, no matter how stormy it gets. Develop this, have the presence of a mindful leader, and watch the ripple effect of innovation and creativity spiral outwards in your organization.
Compassion and Open-mindedness
Okay, let’s talk about compassion and being open-minded. This doesn’t mean you’re a pushover; it means that you have emotional intelligence and empathy for your team. You care about the people you lead. You listen, you empathize, and you make decisions that take everyone’s well-being into account – it is the ability to be human-centered.
Open-mindedness rounds you out. It’s listening to new ideas, even if they challenge your beliefs. It’s what turns a good leader into a mindful leader. When employees have ideas that challenge you, look for the reason why. You want to encourage creativity and innovation, not stifle it.
The Benefits of Being a Mindful Leader
Enhanced Connection with Team Members
Do you know that warm, fuzzy feeling when someone really “gets” you? That great leader in our careers that we can all name and remember for how they made us feel? Sound familiar?
Imagine spreading that vibe throughout your entire team. When you’re a mindful leader, you’re not just their boss – you’re part of the team. You’re in the trenches with them, understanding their challenges, celebrating their wins, and hopefully having fun along the way.
When your team feels connected to you, they’re more likely to go the extra mile. A trick here is being vulnerable; let them get to know you on an emotional level. Your team wants to be on the journey with you, not for you.
Effective Change Management
People get nervous, whether it’s a new software system or a complete company overhaul. But as a mindful leader, you’ve got a secret weapon: empathy. You understand that you’re there to guide your team through it step by step.
I have been through large changes a lot. They are a huge opportunity, the ability for your team to see this is up to you.
It’s not about saying, “This is happening; deal with it.” It’s about saying, “I know this is tough, but we’re going to get through it together.”
Making Value-Aligned Decisions
What are your values? What are the organization’s values? Whether you are the Vice President or Executive Director, your teams want to know that you will hold true to your values. And hopefully, they align with theirs.
As a mindful leader, you’ve got your values to guide you. The organization can share theirs in their leadership training. However, your values are what make you, you. When you are focused on human-centered decisions, your values are your lens. Not the bottom line; but rather the impact of your decisions on your team, your clients, and even yourself.
And the best part? When you make value-aligned decisions, you sleep better at night. No tossing and turning, wondering if you did the right thing. You know you did, and that’s a feeling money can’t buy.
How to Cultivate Mindful Leadership
Mindfulness Practices for Leaders
So, you’re pumped about becoming a more mindful leader—incredible! But where do you start? This is not about becoming Buddhist; it is about developing a daily routine that includes mindfulness training. Start in your own life before trying to develop workplace mindfulness.
A great meditation practice is to focus on your breath simply. Follow your breath in and out. As thoughts enter your mind, simply acknowledge them and go back to your breath. This will train your attention like you train your biceps. Consistency and repetition.
Even just acknowledging what you are grateful for helps. My husband and I had our house flood; we have been out of it for many months as it is rebuilt. I am grateful for this; we now have the chance to rebuild it how we want – on insurance money.
Books and Resources on Mindful Leadership
There are so many books on mindfulness and meditation. From classics to new age. Here is a link to some: https://www.mindful.org/10-mindfulness-books-youll-want-to-read-this-fall/
My personal favorite is podcasts and meditation apps. I am currently devouring the guided meditations on the Expand app.
Ask friends what they read and listen to. I will be posting regularly my new finds here and on my social media. Check them out here.
Balancing Work and Personal Life Mindfully
Let’s remember being a mindful leader isn’t just a 9-to-5 gig; it’s a lifestyle. Do a mindful leadership training course, practice your mindfulness meditation, and always try to be in the present moment.
Practicing mindful leadership will give you the ability to focus on what is important and not just the loudest voice, which is quite often your own.
The goal of this is to give you clarity on the world you live in. Create the skills to reduce your stress and lead your organization’s employees in the moment – your business results will see it for the positive.
You must also bring that same awareness and compassion to your personal life. Think about it: How can you be more present during family dinners? Or more engaged in your hobbies? Trust me, the benefits spill over into every area of your life.
By being focused on your mindfulness and becoming a mindful leader, your workplace and employees will respond. Their lives and your colleagues will feel your presence in a whole new way.
Mindful Leadership in the Digital Age
Navigating Remote Work
Ah, remote work—the dream for some, a challenge for others. But here’s the thing: Being a mindful leader in a remote setting is totally doable. It’s about staying connected, even when you’re miles or continents apart. Regular check-ins, virtual coffee breaks, or even a quick “How’s your day going?” message can make a world of difference.
A mindful leader understands that it is their responsibility to drive a good culture, not their teams.
Communication is Key:
In a remote setting, clear communication becomes even more crucial. Utilize tools like Slack, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams to keep the lines open. Schedule regular video calls not just to discuss work but also to check in on each other’s well-being.
Virtual Team Building:
During the pandemic, we were all beyond bored of the Zoom games; however, there are some really fun alternatives.
My organization loves the My Virtual Mission game. Employees form groups of team members who compete to get to a destination virtually. You can run, ride, Zumba, or any other form of movement. Each person gets a sense of leading their team to victory. The more employees and leaders you get involved, the more ability you have to build bonds and relationships.
Mindful leaders know that home is also the office; it’s easy to blur the lines. As mindful leaders, you set the example by respecting your own time and encouraging your team to do the same. Create a designated workspace at home and make it a rule to “leave” work at a specific time. Trust me, your future self (and your team) will thank you.
Sometimes your employees may not have the ability to do this. Practicing mindful leadership will give you the understanding to help them and lead them in a way that is stress-free for you both.
Balancing Work and Personal Life Mindfully—Online
We’ve all been there—scrolling through emails while binge-watching our favorite show or answering work calls during family time. But being mindful means knowing when to unplug and expecting your employees to unplug.
Designated ‘Me Time’:
Block out specific times in your calendar for personal activities, whether it’s a workout, reading, or spending time with family. Treat this time as non-negotiable.
For my team, I placed large blocks of time in their diaries throughout the week. These were times when they could focus on themselves and be creative.
Practice stepping into the shoes of your employees. You may like working at night. Don’t send that email at 11 p.m.; use the schedule feature to send it in the morning. Be aware of the subtle messages these behaviors deliver.
Consider a regular digital detox where you disconnect from all work-related devices for a set period. It could be an hour each day or a full day over the weekend. The point is to give yourself a break from the constant digital noise.
A great mindfulness practice is not to look at your phone for at least 30 minutes after you wake up. Especially to check work emails. Every day when I walk the dog, I turn my phone to Do Not Disturb; this gives me an hour every day of being in my own thoughts.
Jeff Bezos doesn’t take any meetings before 10 a.m. This is his time to potter and relax. He understands that these practices make him a better person and be in the present moment throughout the rest of his day.
Create small rituals to transition between work and personal time (I must admit I do love a good Gin and Tonic for this – not recommended, though). It could be as simple as a five-minute meditation session or a quick walk around the block. These rituals signal to your brain that it’s time to switch gears.
Probably the most important practice to develop is your bedtime routine. You are a better person with good sleep. It is hard to have mindfulness when you are tired and grumpy from not enough sleep.
Today’s Moments are Precious:
Please take note of this one. Your work will be there tomorrow, but today’s moments are one-time offers. Stop wishing your life away.
Take note of these moments, write them down, and show gratitude that you got to experience them. Your next day is never a guarantee.
Your Journey Towards Mindful Leadership
So, here we are at the end of our deep dive into mindful Leadership. Pretty cool stuff, right?
But remember, it’s just the beginning of your journey. Whether you’re a seasoned leader or just stepping into a leadership role, there’s always room to grow, to be more present, and to lead with intention.
Leaders who practice mindfulness are simply better leaders. This is often the difference between leaders and managers. Managers are more concerned about the job than the person doing it.
Additional Resources and Next Steps
Feeling inspired but need help figuring out where to go from here? No worries! Many resources are out there to help you on your mindful leadership journey. From online courses to coaching programs, the sky’s the limit. And hey, don’t forget to watch this blog for more insights and tips!
What’s Next? Daily Habits of Successful People
If you enjoyed this article and my previous one on ‘15 Leadership Principles,’ you’ll love what’s coming up next: ‘Daily Habits of Successful People.’ Hopefully, my writing is getting better. My first interview is coming up, and it should be a doozy. Stand by for more details on that.
What is Mindful Leadership?
Mindful Leadership is a leadership style that emphasizes being present, open-minded, and compassionate when interacting with others.
Why should I care about Mindful Leadership?
Adopting a mindful approach to leadership can improve your decision-making, enhance team dynamics, and contribute to a healthier work environment.
What are the core pillars of Mindful Leadership?
The core pillars are self-awareness, wisdom and self-mastery, and compassion and open-mindedness.
How can I become more self-aware?
Simple exercises like deep breathing and self-reflection can help improve your self-awareness. Focus on your inner thoughts.
What are the benefits of Mindful Leadership?
Benefits include enhanced connection with team members, effective change management, and making value-aligned decisions.
How does Mindful Leadership affect team dynamics?
It fosters a sense of connection and trust, encouraging team members to be more engaged and committed.
Can you give examples of Mindful Leadership in action?
The article includes case studies that demonstrate the positive impact of Mindful Leadership in various settings.
How can I start practicing Mindful Leadership?
The article offers practical tips and exercises, as well as book recommendations for those interested in deepening their understanding.
Are there resources for learning more about Mindful Leadership?
Yes, the article suggests books, online courses, and coaching programs.
Is Mindful Leadership applicable in a remote work setting?
Absolutely, the article discusses how to navigate the challenges and opportunities of remote work mindfully.
How can I balance work and personal life while being a mindful leader?
The article offers tips on setting boundaries and being present in both work and personal settings.
What’s the next article about?
The next article is titled ‘Daily Habits of Successful People’ and will explore the small, daily habits that contribute to success.
Where can I find more articles like this?
Stay tuned to the blog for more articles on leadership, mindfulness, and personal development.