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Mindful leadership – How do you hack it?

mindful leadership


. 6 min read

Most corporate employees believe that their career graph completely depends on the mentor they find at their workplace. A mentor or a leader could make or break any mentee’s livelihood based on how they handle workplace dynamics. 

In these fast-paced times, where mayhem, stress, and anxiety are all too common, it is only an honest leader who, by exercising his power and influence, can enable his followers to become a better version of themselves. 

In fact, there are instances where employees raise exit requests to move companies along with their trusted leader. This makes it extremely important to groom such leaders within an organisation to curb attrition. 

Numbers prove this as well. 40% of the team’s engagement and 32% of the team’s mental health are directly proportional to the mindful leadership that their direct manager practices.  

What is mindful leadership

Mindful leadership is where leaders are present in the situation and control the variables through thoughtful decisions. They are inclusive and approachable. They align their choices based on the team’s core values. 

Self-awareness is a key principle for this method to succeed. This kind of deep self-awareness is instrumental in ensuring that the decisions taken are unbiased and favourable to all. In such scenarios, the leader is very cognizant of his/her flaws and keeps them at bay while grooming a larger group to greater heights. 

According to mindful leaders, the team plays a crucial role. They are extremely mindful and considerate of their team’s wants and desires. At the same time, they do not listen to the whims and fancies of the team and do not let them decide the future. They weigh their emotions and pick the best possible route, aligning it with the end vision.

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How does mindful leadership differ from any other leadership style?

There are different leadership styles and each person is inherently aligned towards one of them. They could vary from bureaucratic to autocratic, transformational to transactional, and even visionary to situational. However, in most of these leadership approaches, mindfulness can be inculcated into a person’s intrinsic traits. 

A leader is a person who has authority. This kind of authority cannot be shoved down a person’s throat, neither can it be spoon-fed to the masses. It needs to be earned. It needs to be tested and reworked until trust is finally built. 

The leader needs to win his respect. At the same time, authority can also be removed in many instances. More often than not, the removal is barely obvious. And hence, leaders need to work at continuing to keep their authority in the future as well. This is where a small trait like being mindful can help them in the long run. 

You could be a transformational leader, hoping to build the next big thing, having a futuristic outlook, and yet be mindful of your team’s values and create a cohesive working environment. 

How can a mindful leader improve the workplace culture

Hybrid models are encroaching on traditional work environments and this makes a leader’s task more cumbersome. Further, in new-age institutions, the organizational structure is very flat for a bureaucratic or autocratic leadership style. 

Hence, there is an integral requirement for a more all-encompassing approach that keeps consideration, communication, and compassion at the core with the leader being fully present. This is where mindful leadership overrules other techniques and works in the favour of all stakeholders. 

Mindful leaders can ensure that their workspace is safe and void of all discrimination. This significantly improves the organization’s culture as it allows people the freedom of speech, a sense of fairness, and the right to express their opinions without being discouraged. 

It’s not just about the deliverables at the end of the day; it is also about the team’s mental health and employees’ well-being. A detailed study by Forbes delves into the importance of a leadership style along the lines of mindfulness. 

A mindful manager can set achievable deliverables and boost employee morale by including sporadic breaks and setting up sensible boundaries. The ultimate result will ensure no employee burnout and a wholesome work-life balance in the bigger scheme of events. 

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What are the qualities of a mindful leader?

The definition of a managerial figure has changed significantly in recent times. He or she is no longer considered a superior who jumps into the picture when a problem arises. A manager is now a person who does not enforce stature, yet can enamour a crowd and can influence their thoughts. 

A mindful leader can be a whole lot of positive things. However, he or she holds an arsenal of positive traits that most certainly include the below qualities. 

  • Proactive: Don’t wait until the last moment. Create the plan and flex the muscle as soon as you realize the need for it. In short, be prepared to hit the ground running from the get-go.
  • Gratitude: Don’t shy away from going the extra mile to praise your peer or junior. This is how you build a larger network of people who will be willing to trust you. The ability to be thankful will exhibit your innate generosity. 
  • Presence: Being fully present, no matter the situation, is all important. Juniors must know that you are approachable and you must have your head in the game to be able to lead with conviction.  
  • Compassionate: Put yourself in your team’s shoes. Show them that you care. Allow kindness and empathy to influence your leadership style. 
  • Inclusive: An equalitarian approach is of utmost need in today’s constantly evolving times. Balance the needs of the organisation and your team through parity and consistency.  
  • Self-aware: This is where you are in control of your own emotions and you are comfortable in your strengths and weaknesses. Do not get easily rattled and have a sense of acceptance when things are outside your control. 
  • Flexible: Not everything will go your way, every time. Be open to embracing change where needed, and use your intuitive powers to manage the transformation smoothly. 
  • Clarity: Do not get swayed easily by others’ reactions or emotions. Focus on what the bigger picture needs and make amends to reach the ultimate goal utilizing the least resources.  

Gratitude – A differentiating factor for Mindful Leadership 

Mindful leaders are very aware of their surroundings. To reach such high levels of realization or perception, the leader would be very attentive towards the people and situations that helped him get there. In other words, he or she would be appreciative and thankful. 

But it doesn’t stop there. The leader’s gratefulness passes on to others in the system and results in a domino effect of flowing gratitude. 

Without being thankful, it is also hard for the mindful leader to inculcate other qualities like inclusivity, compassion, flexibility and clarity. Indeed, gratitude is the glue that binds all the qualities of a mindful leader together.

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How do you practice mindful leadership? 

It is imperative to understand that the traits described above could either be innate or developed. So, don’t fret if you feel that you do not immediately express any of these attitudes, as there are ways to practice and hone mindful leadership. 

Here are some simple steps that you can start implementing, in any order: 

  • It all begins with you. Gain a grip on your emotional intelligence and build rational controls that will help you lead with persuasion.   
  • Communicate with transparency and manage expectations through clear decisions. 
  • Be open to ideas and do not be quick to judge. 
  • Create a resilient atmosphere within your team by encouraging ownership and accountability. 
  • Keep your values true to the company’s core ethos. Ethical ways of working should be your focus. 

To be able to understand your emotional intelligence, preach inclusivity, practice compassion, and remain calm even during a storm, mindful meditation is a good place to start. 

How can meditation help you become a mindful leader? 

Meditation is the most renowned method used to achieve a mindful spirit. Research has proven that mindful meditation helps create a positive environment around you, nullifying health concerns and mental issues. This form of meditation helps you stabilize your emotions and conduct yourself in a way that is conducive to leading. 

Mindful meditation is a secular approach that focuses on reducing stress. Thankfully, it is simple enough to be integrated into a busy schedule. 

With no major props or investment, you can use meditative practices to reach your core, find your authentic self, accept your reality, see other perspectives, and unearth what values matter most to you. With the correct posture, the right environment, and the ability to be honest with yourself, mindful meditation can not only be learned but also mastered. 

Use guided meditation, meditation stories or even sound bath meditation techniques to explore yourself.  Try to answer the ambiguous questions about your well-being, your team’s values, and the organization’s future when you are in a calm space. 

Another approach would be through transcendental meditation which brings in a realm of tranquility and relaxation for leaders to become resilient and unhindered. 

To impart such mindful leadership skills to forthcoming managerial recruits, large institutions have started to build curriculums that integrate mindful meditation into their traditional teaching approaches. 

Why is there an urgent need for mindful leadership? 

A large chunk (70%) of the employees claim that their leaders have not tried to solve their toxic workplace culture or reduce their burnout. Don’t be that manager that sweeps an employee’s feelings under the carpet. Instead, be that mindful leader who transforms the workplace into a utopian setting for growth. 

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