Non-Profit Leadership: Are You a Mindful Leader?

Group of business people discussing work in conference room. Senior business manager guiding employees in meeting. Group of businessman and businesswoman working together while sharing new strategy.

There has been a lot of research and publication on the issue of mindfulness. There are several ways to think about mindfulness but in leadership it is an essential characteristic that makes a huge difference in the emotional and relational climate of the group of individuals that you are leading. A mindful leader intuitively creates environments that are emotionally intelligent, aligned and harmonious.

Mindfulness is that capacity to be fully aware of all that one experiences inside the self, mind, body and spirit. It is also that ability to be attuned and aware to all that is going on around you.  In essence mindfulness includes not only what is happening physically to those close to you but also emotionally. It is a healthy state of curiosity, cognitive openness and awareness. 

This degree of awareness keeps leaders from being overwhelmed, burnt out and the sacrifice syndrome that I spoke about in a past post. We are attuned to our own perspectives and realities and know how to prevent toxicity and a sense of helplessness when we encounter difficult situations and what feels like insurmountable problems. That includes our own emotions as we experience some of the challenges of leadership.

This level of authenticity also allows leaders to be present and attuned to the needs of their staff. This mindful approach is not only about our own experiences but gives us a better understanding of the experiences of those who are in our sphere of influence and for whom we are responsible. This mindfulness of others keeps leaders in healthy conversations that enhance our abilities to make effective contextual decisions, gain understanding and be able to respond to those around us with resonance and clarity.

Male mature caucasian ceo businessman leader with diverse coworkers team, executive managers group at meeting. Multicultural professional businesspeople working together on research plan in boardroom.

I like to use the idea of relational integrity as a way to build trust with those around you. Some leaders believe that trust is built through people accepting their position or power. In reality trust is created because of consistency of character over time. Being respectful, kind, caring, consistent, honest and accepting people for who they are is what builds trust. When individuals experience that kind of reliable character, it compels them to entrust themselves to their leader since they feel safe and secure in that relationship.

Leaders who are awake, aware and attentive to those that they lead are seen as both mindful and good role models. Leaders that are authentic and mindful of themselves and others are best equipped to handle chronic stress, solve problems, create an aligned team and help organizations achieve goals in a positive and celebratory way. Imagine a world of mindful leaders who could take us to positive goals and hopeful outcomes through a mindful and healthy approach! What a great way to lead and enjoy the process as a growing team.

Gerry Vassar


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