Under the best of circumstances, we all face many challenges. In recent times, work and life have become more challenging than ever before. Work/life balance has taken on new meaning in a new hybrid workplace. Workers and leaders alike have seen the lines blurring between work and personal time. According to Bloomberg, people working from home have seen a sustained increase of 2.5 hours to the average workday than before the pandemic. People working in-person are facing a great deal of extra stress, too. They have to coordinate with remote workers, face safety concerns while dealing with the public, and struggle to find childcare due to remote schooling. On top of the logistical challenges, everyone is facing some level of economic uncertainty and therefore feels more pressure to perform at work than ever before. To meet the moment we are in, the world needs mindful leaders to promote healthier, more effective workplaces.
What is Mindful Leadership?
At its core, mindfulness is a state of alert, focused relaxation. Mindful leaders can be fully present and aware of where their attention is focused. They can face any situation without becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed. Any leader can achieve the state of mindfulness and help their team do the same. Rather than expending energy on reacting to constant stress and being pulled in a million directions, mindful leaders promote calm and thoughtful workplaces. As we face tumultuous times and complex problems, cultivating an organizational culture rooted in mindfulness allows more energy to be used for creativity and innovation and less energy wasted on stress and fear. Mindfulness makes leaders more effective at navigating complex issues and solving difficult problems. So how can we all be more mindful every day?
Start a Meditation Practice
Meditation has many benefits, like relieving stress, improving mental and physical health, and improving sleep. It is a great way to practice focusing your attention and increasing self-awareness, which is key to mindful leadership. Meditation does not have to be complicated. There are many apps and youtube videos anyone can use to get started. It can be as simple as taking 5 minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Offer a group meditation break during the day to encourage employees to be more mindful as well.
Practice Mindful Movement
Mindful movement can improve overall health, reduce stress and anxiety and counteract the effects of sitting for long hours in front of a screen. Mindful movement can mean taking a quick Yoga or Tai Chi break during the day or practicing a walking meditation, where you bring awareness to each step or breath as you walk with intention and focus. Again, this is something that can be done with co-workers and teams during the workday to encourage healthy habits.
Practice Active Listening
Being aware of where you are focusing attention is a major part of mindfulness. One way leaders can become more effective is to practice really listening to others, especially in remote work environments. Next time you are in a meeting, work on giving someone your full attention, listening to what they have to say without interrupting, and encouraging them to elaborate or share more. Practice focusing your attention and resisting the temptation to glance at your phone or email on another screen. Giving the gift of your presence and awareness to a team member lets them know they are appreciated and respected, creating a more positive work experience.
Mindful leadership starts with the individual but can easily be shared with co-workers, friends, and families to increase their happiness and well-being while sharpening skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.