A mindful leader leads from a position of awareness—what I call “mindstrength.” Such leaders can easily tap into their core creativity to solve problems and achieve goals, and they make everyone on their team feel recognized, affirmed and valued.
Most of us were taught that creativity comes from the thoughts and emotions of the mind, but the greatest creative artists recognize that the most original and transformative ideas actually come from the core of our being. Core creativity emerges when we’re in a state of open-minded consciousness, or mindful inquiry.
Everyone can benefit from being a mindful leader. My work as a transformational coach teaching individuals and organizations to become more mindful applies to all levels in the corporate and organizational culture, from the CEO to the administrative staff, and it relates to employees’ business and personal lives.
Becoming a mindful leader isn’t difficult, if you’re open to the process and are willing to make an effort to develop a systematic mindfulness. The ideal practice would be to do a mindfulness meditation for 20 minutes once or twice a day, starting with 10 minutes once a day so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
With a little effort, you can quickly learn to focus, harness and direct the unruly aspects of the mind into clarity, order and positivity, thereby building more mindstrength. A leader with strong mindstrength can respond with clarity, awareness and accountability, and has the ability to take care of what needs to be done and to report to others.
Benefits of Mindful Leadership
The practice of mindful awareness has a number of benefits, including the following:
• It allows you to tolerate ambivalence, ambiguity and conflict, as well as reduce frustration, ward off unwholesome thoughts and feelings, and resist the urge to force the situation.
• It enables you to tolerate differences between your own and others’ views, and forge ahead with confidence that you’re doing what’s right for you and for others.
• It helps hone what you say to avoid the negative effects of aggressive speech, which shuts down productive communication and reduces the manager’s ability to see the larger picture, make better decisions and effectively influence the team.
• Building mindstrength increases your ability to be optimistic and enthusiastic, rather than pessimistic and stifling, so you can tap into possibilities to develop new ways to compete in the marketplace. This requires letting go of what no longer works and engaging in new actions that lead to transformation.
• By remaining mindful, you can work toward your goals every day, seizing all opportunities. Your goal of balancing work and family life won’t feel like something you’ll only be able to accomplish down the road.
Becoming a Mindful Leader
One way to become a mindful leader is to develop your own mindfulness meditation practice. I encourage people to take a five- to 10-minute break in the middle of their day to mediate so they can clear their head and tap into their core creativity.
Managers can also access this creativity by exploring the arts, walking in nature and participating in disciplines such as yoga, tai chi and the martial arts.
Mindfulness practice will help employees enhance their performance, creativity and productivity. It can also help resolve conflicts, encourage giving and sharing of feedback, and lead to creative problem-solving.
A leader, manager or owner can benefit by first practicing mindfulness and then by promoting the practice throughout the organization. So, begin to sit mindfully and gain the benefits of leading your team and your company more effectively.
Ronald Alexander is a psychologist who works with companies and individuals to spur creativity, resolve conflicts, reach goals and encourage teamwork. He wrote Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose & Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss & Change.