The Practices of Mindful Leaders
Great leaders come in many different varieties, but mindfulness is one quality they have in common. Contemplation and compassion can make you and your team happier and more successful.
That’s why many major corporations are training their employees to be more mindful. For example, Aetna says their training increased productivity by one hour a week and decreased medical claims by $9 million a year.
Discover the benefits of greater consciousness for yourself. Try these suggestions for developing your own mindful style of leadership.
You’ll need to focus on your inner self before you can change your external behavior.
Training in mindfulness with these activities will help you to lead by example:
- Meditate daily. Put aside time each day to sit quietly. Focus on the here and now. Observe your thoughts without making judgements. Start out with brief sessions and extend your time as your concentration grows.
- Breathe deeply. Pay attention to your breath. With each inhalation, draw energy into your body. With each exhalation, release stress.
- 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.
- 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 behind each activity.
- 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 coffee to brew.
- Seek instruction. Look for 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 with Mindfulness
If you like what mindfulness does for you, share your practice 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.
Adopt these mindful leadership habits:
- 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. Downtime prevents burnout and increases productivity. Design a quiet space where employees can go to relax and refresh.
- 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 if your company doesn’t have one already. 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.
- Encourage cooperation. An organizational culture steeped in mindfulness facilitates collaboration and connection. Create a shared vision and work together towards common goals.
- 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.
- Continue learning. Whatever stage you’re at in your career, 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 and program an hourly reminder on your phone.
Help yourself and others to feel more connected and fulfilled. Mindful leadership is a skill you can develop through meditation and hands-on experience.