You’ve probably heard the term mindfulness before – maybe you’ve embraced it, or maybe you’ve never given it much thought.
There’s been much said about the benefits that mindfulness can bring to our lives, both mental and physical, and there is now a growing awareness of how it can also benefit our workplaces. But how can we begin to practice mindful leadership, and what will we achieve by doing so?
Mindlessness is the norm
Let’s talk about the norm – at REO we interview thousands of candidates every year and the predominant reason why people resign from jobs is because of a lack of leadership.
I call it mindless leadership.
Off-siding your team is easy. Just ignore their concerns, disrespect their desire of how they want to be managed, be blind to their emotional desires, and there you’ll have a disengaged team member. This lack of mindfulness towards your colleague (be it manager or subordinate) seems to be the norm in corporate practice and it’s the minority of organisations that are bucking the trend.
So who is in this minority and how are they bucking the trend?
Mindful leadership at work
I recently attended a 2020 Exchange briefing for CEOs on How Mindful Leadership Can Transform an Organisation. The speakers were all leaders of large organisations and their stories of mindfulness in action in their workplaces were both thought-provoking and inspiring.
3 minute meditation before a management meeting
Phillipa Blakey is the Managing Director of Pulse Health. She is a firm believer of the benefits of mindful leadership. Since joining the company she has introduced a three minute meditation at the beginning of all leadership meetings. This small and simple practice helps everyone attending the meeting shut out the stressors and concerns from their day so they start the meeting firmly in the present moment. This presence allows for creativity and sharp decision making.
Work together, eat together
At Blackmores, Managing Director Dave Fenlon also champions the strong organisational culture of wellness and mindfulness in the workplace. He believes the key to a culture of mindfulness filtering down from the top is to connect with others on a personal level. Every day the team at Blackmores sits down for lunch at long tables in the same room. Blackmores provides the lunch and as a result this regular time and space together allows people to connect and feel a sense of community. Cross pollination of ideas is born and people feel “heard” and “seen”. Blackmores have seen amazing results across retention and employee satisfaction (not to mention their recent share price!).
Mindfulness explained and why it breeds success
Mindfulness, at its core, is all about being present in the moment.
That means not thinking about the future or worrying about past failures.
Sounds simple – but most people would be surprised by how much of your day you spend anxiously planning ahead or worrying about the past.
Shift your focus
Another speaker at the 2020 Briefing, Luke Stewart, Managing Director of EMGA Mitchell McLennan, uses a simple techniques of putting his hands on his belly and asking himself how he is feeling, as a way to refocus throughout his day. This stops future thinking and past worrying in its tracks – try it now while you’re reading this and see for yourself.
When you become mindful, you make much better use of your time. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, but the successful people among us somehow seem to use their time more effectively. Their secret? They focus on the present, which allows them to experience every moment and to make the most of it. That’s the power of mindfulness.
Is Mindful Leadership the Way Forward?
Today, every leader is looking for new and powerful ways to bring success to their organisation. I believe that mindful leadership and a mindful culture is something that we should all be aspiring to as a path to future success.
By fostering a workplace that encourages not only its leaders, but every staff member, to be mindful, connected and present can only be beneficial. Clarity of focus, clear and fast decision making, making the most of every available moment – these are all traits that will benefit our organisations. And as companies like Blackmores have shown, mindfulness makes the workplace somewhere people want to be. And that is priceless.
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