6 Ways to Become a More Mindful Leader

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In a society that glorifies business and constant productivity, the concept of mindfulness has begun circulating around modern workplaces as a means of intentionally slowing down and alleviating stress. Mindfulness, at its core, is the practice of being fully present and engaged in one’s own life, exploring self-awareness, and making an effort to act intentionally.  Some benefits of incorporating the practice of mindfulness into the workplace include:

  • Increased worker productivity and efficiency

  • Increased worker satisfaction

  • More effective communication between all levels of employees

  • Burnout prevention

A concept quite appealing in theory, but when it comes to execution, many leaders are unsure of how to incorporate mindfulness as a meaningful practice in their workplace that will lead to impactful and lasting results. What most people managers are unaware of however, is that becoming a more mindful leader can start with incorporating simple new habits into your own personal routine. Here are 6 simple practices to get started.

Daily check-ins

Beginning your morning or taking a moment after lunch to do a body scan - paying attention to how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally, is both an opportunity to slow down and take a breath for a moment, and to allow you to structure your priorities and agenda for the day to best serve you. Allowing yourself to explore how you feel each day may also help you pinpoint reasons as to why you may be feeling off, sluggish and tired, or energetic, motivated and inspired. Do you have any habits that don’t serve you? Does eating a good breakfast set you up to have a more productive day?

Don’t stop at just checking in with yourself. Check in with your direct reports as well - ask them how they’re feeling, if they have any feedback for you, if they’ve done their own body scan that day. Not only are you leading by example by regularly checking in with yourself, but you’re also teaching your employees how to find more clarity for themselves and practice more self-awareness.

Intentional listening

When having a conversation with your employees, are you hearing what they are actually trying to communicate, or what you want to hear? Intentional listening is the practice of repeating back to someone the idea or opinion they have just voiced to you in order to make sure you are fully absorbing the message they are trying to get across. Not only does this practice lessen the chance of miscommunication, it also builds trust and allows employees to feel like they have a voice and safe space to express themselves in.

Emotional Intelligence

Defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s own emotions, and also to approach interpersonal relationships with empathy and compassion, familiarizing yourself with the concept of emotional intelligence can de-isolate you as a leader and allow you to make objective, intentional decisions. Emotional intelligence goes hand in hand with daily check-ins and being able to identify which emotions you are feeling at any point in time. Dis-associating emotions as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ and simply learning to recognize what they are and how they affect decision-making will allow for more collaboration and understanding in the workplace.

Take breaks and unplug

It seems as though we are always being flooded with constant emails, texts, Slack messages, chats, news updates, etc, with little to no reprieve. This constant flood of information is draining, and often leads to decreased concentration and productivity. Scheduling time for yourself to silence your notifications and go for a walk or take a lunch break away from your desk, can help you to re-charge and decompress, and allows you to return back to your work with a fresh perspective and renewed sense of motivation.

Practice gratitude

On days when you’re dealing with frustrated clients, a roadblock in the closure of an important deal, quickly approaching deadlines, and more, it can be hard to stay positive and optimistic. However, any negativity you harbor often directly impacts the environment of your workplace and the mentality of your employees, and therefore their productivity and quality of work. By taking a few moments to write down several things you’re grateful for each day, you are training your mind to notice the seemingly insignificant yet positive things in your life that truly have the power to turn your day around.

Time block - be intentional with your tasks

If you’re a professional that often has upwards of 10 tabs open on your screen at one time - you’re not alone. With so much to get done in so little time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed while you bounce back and forth from project to project and feel like you’re accomplishing nothing. Instead, try time blocking - decide which tasks take priority and delegate a certain amount of time to work on each one before moving onto another. You’ll be surprised at how much more you get accomplished along with the sense of ease and clarity you feel from focusing on one task at a time.

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