Mindful.org defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Mindful leadership is a leadership style in which managers learn to intentionally cultivate the ability to be present, open-minded, and compassionate when interacting with team members and show the same care and consideration for themselves.

It allows leaders to shut down the mind’s “busy mode” and notice and respond to what is happening at the moment rather than resorting to default patterns.

A mindful leader is present, authentic, open-minded, receptive, and non-judgmental. Research shows a direct relationship between leaders’ mindfulness and their employees’ well-being and performance.

Many leaders believe they don’t have time to practice mindfulness because they have too many demands on their time, and by continuing to move faster, they will eventually catch up.

However, mindfulness can equip them better to handle their professional responsibilities, relationships, and well-being. It can also inspire their direct reports to be mindful leaders as well.

A mindful leader –

  • is present in the moment without any judgment, thereby seeing the bigger picture and creative solutions
  • is aware of their conditioning and biases and can see the situation clearly
  • can stay calm and deal with the challenges at hand
  • is able to stay focused while solving problems
  • develops authentic and deeper connections with colleagues
  • provides psychological safety to team members via their interactions
  • inspires the team to be present, engaged, and productive

Leaders have busy schedules, need to deal with complex information, make important decisions and inspire the best out of every person. The ability to be present in the moment and not be distracted by ever-present challenges, noise in the system, and mind chatter is necessary. Here are a few steps to cultivate mindful leadership in yourself –

Perform mindfulness exercises: Find the type of exercise that resonates with you the most, e.g., a mindful walk, body scan meditation, following your breath, or paying attention to your environment through your five senses, etc. and incorporate it into your daily routine.  

Develop self-awareness: Tune in with yourself a few times in the day and check how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Be compassionately curious about yourself and what your mind and body are telling you so you know when to take the time to process your emotions or recharge your body.

Practice gratitude: Write three things you are grateful for every day. It anchors you to the present and helps you cherish simple things in life.

Do not multi-task: Prioritize who you are talking to or what you are doing in the moment. By being fully present to the person you are talking to, you will give them the gift of your attention and develop a deeper connection. Focusing on one activity at a time will make you more productive. It will also strengthen your mindfulness muscle.

To summarize, mindful leadership is an excellent leadership style for managers to cultivate self-awareness, connect authentically, and improve employee well-being and performance. Leaders may better navigate their professional duties and motivate their team members to do the same by implementing mindfulness practices into their daily routines. So, start today by incorporating mindfulness exercises, developing self-awareness, practicing gratitude, and focusing on one activity at a time to become a mindful leader.