We live in an era where globalization and advancing technological changes create a lot of volatility and uncertainty. This requires for cognitive and emotional resources to improve resilience and stress management, facilitate adaptation to change and increase creativity.
Leading organizations are waking up to this new challenge and are putting Mindfulness at the centre of the professional development agenda. In short, mindfulness can be defined as a practice that cultivates the ability to pay attention to the present moment and research shows a broad catalogue of benefits coming from mindfulness practice on the functional domains of attention, cognition, emotion and behaviour.
What follows is a summary of the main leadership traits that mindfulness helps to develop:
Self-awareness and self-management: Star leaders are stars at leading themselves first. A leader who has difficulty in recognizing and regulating his own emotions will have greater difficulty recognizing and accepting the emotions of others and understanding their points of view. Mindfulness practice allows for non-judgmental self-observation and better emotional self-regulation. In this way, the leader will have greater ability to relate to his team and respond more appropriately and intentionally to the different situations as they arise.
Alignment: We know that for effective leadership, the leader needs to be aligned not only with the organization’s values, but also with their own values. With Mindfulness, the leader develops the ability to observe himself at every moment, defining intentions and recognizing the impact of his actions. This allows for greater clarity about what is important to him and to the organization, bringing greater awareness when his actions could take him away from his own values.
Resilience: Setbacks and uncertainty are part of everyday life for organizations. The ability to face obstacles, maintain motivation and recover easily becomes essential for good leadership. Mindfulness practice increases metacognition, improves emotion regulation and decreases impulsive response. As a result, with greater calm and perspective, the leader will be able to adapt more easily to the moment and act more assertively.
Collaboration: For effective leadership, the ability to understand the other’s point of view and put one’s own feelings into perspective is essential. Mindfulness develops self-knowledge and emotional self-regulation which generates a greater ability to recognize the other and fosters empathy. With mindfulness practice, the leader is better able to generate work environments with psychological safety, creating better human connection and more collaborative teams.
Agility: In the context of great speed and change, leaders are increasingly concerned with the need for innovation and fast adaptation, integrating an agile management culture into the company. The ability to focus, be clear, communicate and empathize is fundamental for the implementation of these methodologies and mindfulness practice has been exponentially used to develop these skills.
In short, mindfulness practice facilitates getting off autopilot and creating space and perspective in front of change. Thus, the leader is more likely to manage his focus, regulate his emotions, create greater empathy, make more thoughtful decisions and adapt to each situation with a more effective and productive response. At the same time, Mindfulness will certainly develop more satisfied teams, with lower levels of stress and a more collaborative approach to work.
Article originally published on the ISEG page: How mindfulness can make you a better leader – ISEG Executive Education