It’s challenging to be a great leader. It takes a lot of work to influence people in ways that serve you and them. Yet, with mindfulness, you can become a better leader. Mindfulness in leadership allows you to be aware of your environment, so you can manage it in ways that satisfy you.
What is Leadership?
“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.” – Steve Jobs.
Leadership is the ability to influence a person or a group towards a common goal. A leader takes charge, makes decisions, and directs their followers. They have a vision and a plan to turn it into reality.
Type of Leadership Style
Leadership is all about influence, and you can do it in various styles. It depends on your personal preferences and what you need to accomplish your goals. Nonetheless, you may use it all when exercising your leadership.
Directing Leadership Style
In the directing leadership style tells people precisely what to do. It doesn’t allow much autonomy. The person in charge knows what one should do. They assign direct tasks to the employees and expect exact results.
This style is best when dealing with new employees, freelancers, or contractors. It allows you to get the job done as you need it.
Coaching Leadership Style
The coaching leadership style focuses on empowering team members to get results. The leader channels each member’s strengths and skills toward productivity.
This style is effective with long-term employees. It motivates them to give better results.
Supporting Leadership Style
For the supporting leadership style, each team member is given equal value.
The leader encourages people to give their thoughts and suggestions. They consider their subordinates’ inputs when making a decision. Yet, the leader still has the final say.
Leaders use this style to grant employees and team members autonomy.
Delegating Leadership Style
The delegating leadership style gives full reign to the employees. They make decisions without input from the leader.
Leaders use the delegating style with senior employees, who can work independently.
Skills and Qualities of a Great Leader
Anyone can be a leader, as long as you are in a position of influence. Still, there are some qualities one needs to be a great leader. Great leaders are those who get people to follow them while caring for them. Here are some of the qualities and skills one needs to cultivate:
- Vision: a leader knows where they are going. They have clear goals and objectives in mind.
- Effective communication: a leader shares their aspiration with others through communication. Effective communication is necessary to influence people.
- Empathy: a leader knows how to relate to and understand others. They connect and form meaningful relationships, which leads to loyal followers.
- Confidence: a leader takes charge and commands. They show the path to others. They believe in their vision and its importance for the people around them.
- Integrity: a leader does what is right, is honest, and has strong moral values.
- Humility: a leader listens to others. They admit when they are wrong. They are willing to do things differently for the team.
As important as these skills are, you need to be a mindful leader to enforce them.
Being a Mindful Leader
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying full attention to the present moment. See it as it is. Discard any fleeting thoughts and distractions. Focus on what you are doing, feeling, or seeing at this exact moment.
Mindfulness keeps unwanted fear and anxiety away. A 2022 study shows that people who practise mindfulness have better physical and psychological health.
What is the Importance of Mindfulness in Leadership?
Mindful leaders are aware of themselves and how they influence people. When you are present in the moment, you assess it correctly. You don’t go based on assumptions, but you accept reality as it is. In turn, this allows you to make better decisions.
Mindfulness helps you gain clarity of a situation. Leaders’ decisions have short-term and long-term effects. They impact people and businesses. Decide on facts, not on emotions or prior experiences.
Leaders interact with people. The nature of their relationship with others influences their personal or business success. Paying attention to those around you, their feelings, and their needs helps you form better connections. People are more open to listening to you when you listen to them.
Dealing with others also comes with conflicts. As people are different, there are bound to be disagreements. Mindful leaders focus on the problem and fix it. They are aware of how words and actions impact people and act accordingly.
Leaders who practice mindfulness are intentional with everything they do. They measure their words and actions. They think before they act.
Mindfulness leads to creativity. When you focus on the present, your mind is empty of unnecessary thoughts and is open to receiving new ideas. You get inspired by what you see, hear and feel. You improve your work by the novelty you bring.
One who practises mindfulness in leadership is open-minded. Such a leader receives new valuable information, examines it, and implements it as they see fit. They see new opportunities and seize them.
As a leader, you have a set of values and principles you abide too. You receive clarity when you’re mindful of your environment, space, words and actions. Mindfulness prevents you from slipping away from your values. It allows you to measure yourself against them to become a better leader.
How to Practice Mindfulness?
The way the world works today makes it challenging to be mindful. There’s a constant noise that keeps the mind busy. It’s easy to get distracted by the quantity of input we receive daily. That’s why you have to be intentional about mindfulness. Here are a few things you can implement to help you:
As simple as this may sound, it is an effective tool. Follow these steps for this exercise:
- Stop for a moment, and breathe.
- Pay attention to your rhythm.
- Count while you are inhaling and exhaling.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Exhale for a second longer or two, and vice-versa.
The breathing exercises bring you to the present moment and clear your mind of all distractions.
Take Mindful Walk
Walking is something we do absent-mindedly. But paying attention while walking is a great way to exercise mindfulness. Do the following steps:
- Pay attention to your strides.
- Walk a bit faster or slower than usual.
- Take notice of your environment.
- Walk barefoot and pay attention to the feelings.
Pause and Focus
Mindfulness is all about paying attention. You can practice it just by focusing on any activity you are doing. Here are some examples:
- When you are eating, describe the taste to yourself.
- When you are looking at something, take notice of the shape and colours.
- When you are listening to something or someone, repeat some parts to yourselves.
Do these regularly to train yourself to be in the moment.
How to Implement Mindfulness in Leadership?
Leaders are constantly learning and evolving. You can enhance your leadership journey today with mindfulness.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, give it your full attention. Be intentional about every interaction you have. You want to switch from the autopilot style to a more controlled manner.
Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t worry about what you are going to do next. Give all your energy to what is happening at the moment.
Make the people around you feel valued when they are around you. Show them you care about them and their work.
Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself as you are. You are aware of your strengths and weaknesses. You know what you can and can’t do. Furthermore, you know your values and principles.
Self-aware leaders know how their leadership style impacts those around them. They know which habits and practices serve them and what they need to improve.
Self-awareness gives you confidence in the decisions you make. It helps you build stronger relationships and allows you to lead effectively.
Work on Yourself
Mindfulness is a skill you develop in a lifetime. As with any other skill, assess yourself and use the necessary resources to improve.
Read books on mindfulness. You can start with these:
- Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Practicing Mindfulness by Matthew Sockolov.
Enrol in classes, workshops and seminars on mindfulness. It will be an investment for you, and you will reap the benefits in no time.
Leaders inspire and motivate others. Being mindful as a leader is what you need to succeed. When you are aware of your surroundings and act accordingly, you live more peacefully. We recommend practising mindfulness even when you’re not exercising your leadership. It will then become an integrated part of your life.