Responsible for ensuring that their teams perform well and that their family and personal needs are taken care of, it’s no wonder that leaders can become stressed. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Research tells us that mindfulness can help leaders to calm and to focus. They can also learn to encourage a mindful culture in their teams.
Being a leader is hard
Leading a team is tough. Not only must you keep your finger on the pulse of what your team is doing on a technical level, but you’ve also got to think openly and strategically about the direction it is team is going in. To be a good leader you need; focus, clarity, creativity and compassion.
Leaders today are often called on to manage huge flows of data, in many different forms, and turn these into actionable decisions. That calls for high levels of focus. But in today’s work environment we’re constantly being bombarded with distractions. Apps, emails, texts, messages, calls… It goes on and on. We’re always connected, always available and always distracted. Our attention is being pulled in a thousand different directions. Technology doesn’t always help our focus.
Leaders we work with will often tell us ‘there just are not enough hours in the day’. With projects, tasks and employees to manage, it’s easy for leaders to feel drained and exhausted. Leading is stressful, and if you’re not careful, stress can take its toll on your health.
You can keep yourself and your team calmer and more focused when challenges present themselves. That way, when challenges turn up you can face them with a calm, focused energy. How?
Becoming a better leader
Mindfulness will help you become a better leader. Mindful leadership is a capacity that emerges when you learn to pay attention, openly and with curiosity, to what goes on in yourself, your team, in your immediate environment, in the organisational environment and in the world around you.
Mindfulness practice, on the other hand, comes from paying attention in a much more particular way. Practices such as mindfulness meditation, which we recommend you do for 10 minutes or more each day, are much more specific. It’s a short amount of time in which you work with your attention much more deliberately. We know from our own published research that when leaders set aside 10 minutes or more each day for mindfulness practice they become more resilient, better able to collaborate with others and better able to stay agile and make decisions in the constantly changing complex world we all live and work in.
More particularly, what we found is that it increased their ability to;
regulate their own emotional responses
empathise with others
try out different perspectives
and adapt to changing circumstances
Mindful leaders don’t let the constant distractions interfere with their ability to prioritise what issues are most important and will receive their full attention. Mindfulness practice will help you to engage more in conversations and come away from the distractions that occur during the day.
We’ve all overreacted to situations because of stress. Mindfulness helps to calm the mind so you can deal with the situation in a level-headed way. Overreacting never had any positive effect, for you or your staff. Through mindfulness we can become aware of our emotions and in turn more aware of how we react to situations.
Building strong resilience
Challenges and setbacks are inevitable in business, especially when your team is pushing forward into unchartered territory. Mindfulness builds mental toughness to help you tackle these challenges head on with a clear focus.
Mindfulness practice enables meta-awareness. This is the ability to see your own thoughts and feelings for what they are – just a flow of thoughts and feelings. That can stop you being carried away with yourself. It opens a tiny space in the flood of events where you can more smartly choose your response to situations, rather than just operating on mindless autopilot and crude instinctive reaction.
Improve collaboration with your team
Just having a team never guarantees results. To succeed you must be able to work well with your team. That calls for high levels of empathy and understanding – from the leader most of all.
The ability to recognise and regulate your emotions enables you to be more resilient, but it also helps you to understand and recognise the feelings of those around you. Seeing when someone is stressed or angry means you can help them through it, or help them to change something in their work environment. That lets you get your team back on track quickly.
Empathy, knowing other peoples’ feelings, goes a long way to building real understanding and developing a real human connection with your team. That inspires better teamwork and makes you a more motivational leader.
Sail through complex situations
Being a leader in today’s fast moving world is tough. There’s always a lot going on and it’s important that you don’t get overwhelmed. Complex and ever-changing situations are two constants in today’s business environment. Becoming more mindful when there is a lot going on will help you to stay calm under pressure, enabling you to focus on the important tasks and maintain motivation.
When you’re mindful, distractions become less distracting. Becoming more mindful enables you to deal much better with the overwhelming flood of information and quickly resume your focus on the task at hand, enabling you to get more done during your day.
Creating a mindful culture
It’s one thing for you to be mindful, but it is even more powerful to inspire your team to be more mindful. Imagine your whole team working more seamlessly together, focused on their goals and tasks, empathising with each other to build a really strong team synergy. Such a team would be unstoppable.
So, how do you create this perfect working environment? It starts with you. Lead by example. Creating a mindful working environment starts from the top. You can’t force someone to be mindful. It comes from a desire to live in the present moment. Telling a member of your team to be more mindful won’t ever work.
If you lead by example and build a culture of mindful focus, your employees will naturally take notice, it will filter down from yourself, through your staff. Give them the training and opportunity they need to become more mindful at work. Some might get it right away, others may take some time. It’s important to be patient, compassionate and give your staff the support they need.
The problems faced by all of us in today’s world are similar. Mindfulness can help us all.
Mindfulness is simply being aware to your environment in this moment. Ideally, this is something that everyone should do innately, but we’re simply not built that way. Instead, we must practice mindfulness. Through this practice we are able to be more resilient, collaborate better and make better decisions in our ever changing complex world.
Mindful leadership emerges from regular practice. Practicing mindfulness will enable you to cope with the tough job of being a leader. It will help you to focus, collaborate better and deal with challenging situations easier. Mindful leadership is the key to turn your team from good to unstoppable. Additionally, it’s a great way to control the long-term effects of stress on your mental, emotional and physical health which team leadership can cause.
We all crave quality, connection and energy at work. Through mindfulness this idealist dream becomes a reality. However, it doesn’t have to stop with you, it is possible to create a mindful culture in your team. To achieve a mindful culture you need to lead by example, show the team what mindfulness is and how it can help.
Get in touch if you’d like to discover how mindfulness training can help you and your team perform better. Our team of mindful teachers are amongst the most accomplished in this field. We will train you on how to lead more mindfully and help you to uncover the opportunities which mindful leadership offers. To book a taster session get in touch with us today.