Why I practice mindful leadership

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

One of the questions people often ask in interviews is "can you describe your leadership style?" I almost always ask others this question and I am often asked it myself. What I have found is that most people have difficulty answering this question in a way that really tells you what it's like to work for them. The typical answers include "I am not a micromanager" or "I am a people person." How I answer the question is a little different, "I practice mindful leadership" which is usually met with a confused look.

So, you're probably asking yourself "what is mindful leadership?" Well, mindful leadership is essential in these challenging times and for me consists of 5 key pillars.

  1. Empathy

  2. Focus

  3. Perspective

  4. Emotional Regulation

  5. Adaptability

I have included a couple of videos below that do an amazing job of further explaining mindful leadership.

Now that you've learned a little more about mindful leadership here is an example of how I employ mindful leadership in a practical way.

Often times in the work place we ask people we work with to assist us with a task or project. Mindful Leadership recognizes that perspective, and empathy are important when seeking to support equality and respect in the workplace. Consider the two scenarios below and you'll see how mindfulness makes for more harmonious relationships in the workplace.

John: "Sally, help me with this project I am up against a tight deadline."

John: "Hi Sally, I see that you are busy but I'd like to make a request. I need help with a project and I am up against a deadline."

At first glance you're probably thinking "John is just being more polite in the second scenario, of course that is better" but, there is more happening in this second scenario than you may immediately realize.

Let's break down the interaction and illustrate how mindfulness can be employed to foster a positive working relationship between John and Sally.

John: "Hi Sally, I see that you are busy but I'd like to make a request. I need help with a project and I am up against a deadline."

In the first part of this scenario John displays empathy by acknowledging that Sally is busy.

In the second part of the scenario John frames his request as just that, a request. This may seem small but it's an essential tenet of mindfulness. When all parties work within a mindful environment the parties are free to negotiate with each other. Perhaps Sally is up against her own deadline that is even more critical? In a mindful environment this type of empathy and respect for each other's perspective allows Sally the room to negotiate with John and find another suitable way to assist him.

How does this manifest itself in a supervisory relationship? In a supervisory relationship the supervisor is free to make requests, but also declarations. A declaration is a request that is not negotiable and is based in some part on the supervisor's managerial responsibilities. Declarations are necessary in a supervisory relationship and by framing their ask as a "declaration" they are clearly communicating to their direct report that assistance isn't just requested, but required. As you can see, not only does mindfulness foster collegiality with those you work with, but also it clears up ambiguity for those that work for you as well giving your team the green light to push back or negotiate when appropriate.

So, that's a small example of why I practice Mindful Leadership. Empathy and Perspective allow those you work with, and those who report to you to enjoy a collegial and unambiguous environment where there is equality and respect for all.

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