As organizations consider the relevance of their current leadership programs and how to incorporate new dimensions, an ancient concept—mindfulness—is entering into workplace vernacular. Meanwhile, scientific research and clinical studies are contributing valuable evidence that demonstrates the psychological and physiological benefits of practicing mindfulness. Early adopters of mindfulness programs include Google, Twitter, Facebook, General Mills, IBM and Unilever.
Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it puts you in the present. It makes you more sensitive to context and perspective. It’s the essence of engagement. A positive domino effect follows from being mindful. A nonjudgmental engagement with oneself leads to nonjudgmental engagements with others. Engagement is necessary to build teams and collaborate to create interconnected and communicative businesses capable of producing innovative and successful outcomes.
We’re killing our own creativity
Mindfulness actualizes a self-perpetuating pathway for constructive reflection and openness to new ideas. It moves human beings away from workplace cultures where hardwired behavior has enacted a mindless continuum. When people have habitually multitasked for years, they may be stuck practicing a behavior that has enforced preoccupation with nonessential ideas and actions. Rather than productively directing attention, they have mindlessly diluted attention. They have become accustomed to expending physical and mental energy and time on matters irrelevant to their objectives. This counterproductive behavioral pattern precludes reflection, creative thinking, and innovative solutions.
The mindset opposite of being mindful is being mind-filled. In a state of mind-filledness, there is no room for anything new to enter.
Lead in the here and now
When we practice leadership mindfully, we are able, in particular moments, to put the quality of our interactions ahead of task accomplishment. We give others involved our full attention. If we are to learn from them, we need to be present, attuned to what they are communicating to us—rather than letting our thinking run ahead, or focusing on particular strategies or actions we might want to put in place. Of course, we do need to interpret, to make sense of what others are saying and doing. The challenge is to do this in a way that is mindful and allows possibilities to emerge.
Mindful leaders have the capacity to be sustainable themselves, create sustainable organizations, and contribute to sustainable communities and a sustainable world. These leaders will be able to innovate in the complex 21st-century global landscape and help the world evolve. The mindful leader will see possibility and move forward, rather than perpetually feel heightened anxiety and freeze in place.
So, tell us: what is one thing you can start doing today to become a more mindful leader? Share your thoughts with us below.