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Mindfulness and leadership: how being present can make you a better leader

Mindfulness and leadership: how being present can make you a better leader

January 23, 2018 by Stella Petrou Concha

Here at Reo, we’re all about elevating human potential. One of the best ways people can do this is by developing their ability to be present and attentive in the moment; in other words, mindful.

 

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a term to describe having awareness and control of where your attention is directed at any moment. It’s perhaps easier to understand in terms of its opposites; habitual thinking, working on autopilot, being lost in thought. Think driving home on your daily commute and arriving, not quite remembering how you got there as you weren’t paying close attention. A state of mindfulness is the opposite of this automatic, procedural way of thinking.

Being mindful is key to being a better leader.

Being mindful can help you be a better leader.

For the skeptic, it’s important to keep in mind this doesn’t have to be a spiritual or new-age, hocus-pocus experience. An influential study by Kirk Brown and Richard Ryan examined “The Benefits of Being Present”, as their article was titled; they found that mindfulness was correlated with lower neuroticism, anxiety, depression and experience of negative emotions, as well as higher positive emotions, self-esteem and optimism.

 

How does it help with leadership?

Mindfulness can pull you out of the habits and patterns of thought that have built up over time. In your dealings with staff, you may have fallen into ways of listening and working that frustrate and disengage them.

Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter wrote in Harvard Business Review about one of their clients that was receiving poor feedback from his staff about his leadership effectiveness. Despite his best efforts to change, he couldn’t fix the problem, until finally he began a 10-minute daily mindfulness exercise. This turned everything around. His feedback improved and he found that he was actually spending less time with people. The difference was he was no longer drifting off into his own mind, only half-listening to the person in front of him; he was paying attention.

 

Mindfulness is a term to describe having awareness and control of where your attention is directed at any moment.

How can you cultivate mindfulness?

Perhaps the best way to become more mindful is to adopt a daily mindfulness ritual or meditation.

Once you become familiar enough with your own mind, you will start to notice when you drift off into habitual thought or autopilot. Every time you do, simply notice that you’ve lost concentration and pull your focus back to present. Mindfulness is not about strong-arming yourself into concentration; it’s about being aware enough to come back when you lose it.
For more information on how we can help you become the best version of you, get in touch with a member of our expert team today.


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