What Is Mindfulness in Leaders?

mindfulness in leadership
The characteristic of mindfulness: to be aware in body, mind and spirit.

In recent decades the research on emotional intelligence has been prominent regarding leadership. Authors like Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee have provided excellent information about resonant leadership in practice.

In Resonant Leadership, they enter into what I think are important discussions to help leaders stay resonant. One healthy characteristic that every  leader should possess is mindfulness.

Mindfulness in a leader denotes full awareness of what is going on inside: mind, body, heart and spirit. It is also the ability to pay attention to people, the natural world, surroundings and events around him/her. In applying this awareness, leaders will be in a better position to build relationships, make decisions and create resonant environments for themselves and those in their sphere of influence.

Cultivating mindfulness

A “bottom-line” type of leadership merely looks at the financial (or the product and financial) results. However, the idea behind emotionally intelligent (mindful) leadership holds that because of the resonance within the organization, employees will be more positive and productive.

For most leaders, mindfulness is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. Neither does it happen by accident. To develop this capability, leaders must be cognizant and intentional.

Research recommends that mindful leaders learn this skill by a combination of reflection, practice and supportive relationships. Consistent practice is required. Therefore, leaders must cultivate self-awareness in self-management and social arenas. The sum of this is referred to as true emotional intelligence.

What is reflection in resonant leadership?

Reflection occurs when a leader finds peace of mind by systematically taking time to meditate, adopt spiritual practices, walk in nature, or journal personal feelings. This valued reflecting time centers, offers peace and enables the leader to stay focused on personal brain-states and emotional status, essential to personal awareness.

In practicing these ideals, leaders look for situations each day to remind themselves intentionally of self-awareness and social awareness. Leaders must plan moments in each day to put into practice the concepts of mindfulness, demonstrating this capability.

Building supportive relationships takes relational time

I like to travel around our facilities and make sure that I personally visit and talk with other leaders and employees. Conversations should not be just about work, but also our lives, families, and other relevant topics of interest. It means as mindful leaders, we stay attuned to what they feel as well as what they do. Often, we learn about ourselves and our staff by being willing to interact in our organizations for the simple purpose of deepening relationships.

Being a mindful leader is a consciously-developed capability that pays big dividends to any environment. It is worth taking the time to learn more about this skill, learn all we can from others, take time to reflect, and take the risk to cultivate mindfulness in the leadership practices of our organizations.

As a resource I highly recommend the book Resonant Leadership for anyone who wants to read more on this topic.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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