Today’s leaders are living in a world of constant stimuli – the ping from the email inbox, the beep of a calendar reminder, the constant stream of text messages, phone calls, meetings and interruptions. Each task begs for attention and it often seems as if the hours available in a given day can no longer accommodate the list of things to do. Leaders are finding themselves in a state of persistent stress where they are often on edge, struggling to show up as the highest and best version of themselves, and too mentally clouded to produce strategies that will have a lasting impact on their bottom line. Worse yet, the teams they are leading are not getting the visionary direction and clarity of purpose necessary to flourish in their roles.
The complexity and relentless pace of our world places exceptional demands on everyone, particularly those charged with leading their organizations. Over the past decade, an increasing number of CEOs and executives have discovered the advantages of incorporating the practice of mindfulness into their daily lives, professional development priorities and organizational cultures – learning to take purposeful pauses to create the space necessary to make wise choices and lead with excellence.
Mindful leadership starts with the self and is a powerful tool for executives, public sector administrators, entrepreneurs and anyone in a position to influence others. It invites leaders to explore the possibility of bringing the mind’s entire capacity to each moment. Practicing mindfulness generates the capacity to think clearly, stay focused on what matters most, sustain high performance, and become more empathic – all while enhancing one’s ability to lead effectively and improving overall well-being.
Neuroscience research has found that mindfulness training alters our brains positively impacting how we engage with ourselves, others, and our work. This research indicates that mindfulness is a learned skill and that practice strengthens connections between certain parts of our brains—specifically the parts of our brains that regulate emotion and information processing. When practiced and applied, mindfulness can profoundly alter and upgrade the operating system of the mind. Through repeated mindfulness practice, brain activity is redirected from ancient, reactionary parts of the brain, including the limbic system, to the more evolved part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex which houses our executive command center.
Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
~ Viktor E. Frankl
Mindful leadership is best approached and most sustainable when we make simple and conscious shifts that are easily integrated into our day-to-day life. Thoughtful moments in time that incrementally improve our overall effectiveness as leaders.
Here are Five Simple Steps for Incorporating Mindfulness into Your Daily Leadership Routine:
- Set an intention first thing in the morning. Take a moment to get clear about what’s most important that day and why. Then, be purposeful about who you need to “be” that day to make that intention a reality (e.g., patient, focused, curious, etc.).
- Throughout the morning, notice if the actions you’re taking and the incoming distractions you’re responding to are in alignment with your intention for the day. If not, take a moment to re-focus your attention on what maters most.
- Notice if you’re pausing between stimulus and response to ensure you’re making thoughtful choices.
- Take a purposeful pause mid-day and assess how the day is going. What’s working? What’s not? If you find yourself off course, refocus on your intention for the day.
- At the end of the day, take a few moments to reflect and assess. Consider how the day went. Acknowledge small victories and gently contemplate future adjustments that need to be made for things that didn’t go as well as planned.
“Each day presents countless opportunities to be a leader.
Mindfulness can help you make the most of them.”
~ Maria Gonzalez
Mindful leaders create an emotional environment where individuals and teams thrive, make wise decisions, exceed goals and expectations, become inspired by the mission of the organization, and nourished by their work.
Let’s grow together…