In the last twenty years, our leadership vocabulary and expectations have changed dramatically as businesses look for a competitive edge, where price and service are rarely differentiators.
Leaders are straining under the pressure of delivering results, employee satisfaction and service, resulting in an exhausted population who are vital pillars to our commercial world. We must respond with a fresh approach to bring them back to strength, offering new tools to master their leadership challenges.
What if we adopted an ancient solution to our modern problem? Imagine a corporate world with less conflict and stress, greater harmony, less stress and better results. Could the East’s Mindfulness philosophy be our solution?
Perhaps it’s time for Mindfulness to sit alongside strategy, releasing our leaders from the burdens of today’s commercial demands to generate genuine job satisfaction and the success that is craved.
What is Mindfulness – it sounds mystical?
It’s true, Mindfulness is not yet common vocabulary in a corporate context, yet it is gaining respect in education, medicine, and science, as its role in health is acknowledged.
The father of Mindfulness in the west, Jon Kabat-Zinn, describes the practice as:
“Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement.”
- Stepping back from our fight-flight response and reflecting on what is happening around and within us
- Focusing our mind away from the stress-inducing past-future thinking that can influence our decision-making
- Stilling the mindless chatter that causes anxiety and, with that stillness… .
- Seeing situations as they are and handling them with more awareness and compassion.
What a powerful combination, which is not about religion or humming mantras with our legs crossed.
Benefits to Business
How does this fit into a leadership environment? Imagine Mindfulness’ self-regulation creating a quieter, more focused mind – allowing more rational and assertive choices. A peaceful mind helps maintain a calmer approach in conflict, finding resolution more compassionately. Being more focused means we can listen to the subtleties in conversations and people’s stories, thereby enhancing our interactions. Staff who feel heard and understood respond more positively and this cultivates a culture of understanding, value and harmony that promote collaboration and co-operation. And all this because of Mindfulness practice.
Three tips for Mindful Leadership
So how do I do it? Here are three initial steps to start your mindfulness approach:
- Take three points each day to step back and acknowledge what is going on, around and within you. Don’t judge it, just notice. This stopping point strengthens your awareness muscle and slows the frenzied mental activity.
- Our breath is central to Mindfulness. During these stopping points observe your breathing and its movement. Practise consciously breathing in and out slowly and see how it calms your heart rate.
- Learn to focus on your breath when dealing with conflict, pressure or a difficult decision.
And these are just the beginning to your leadership success… you can learn more about Mindfulness and mastering its art by downloading the book The Art of Mindful Leadership by Karen Davies.
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