In Touch Leadership: Embrace Mindfulness and Empower Your Team
Harnessing the Power of Empathy and Awareness to Drive Enduring Success
♾️ ENDURE: Cultivating Growth
In the rapid pace of today's world, new team leaders and managers find themselves grappling with a whirlwind of tasks and responsibilities. Amidst this demanding landscape, keeping your feet on the ground and staying connected with your team members becomes crucial. That's where the practice of mindfulness, or "being in-touch," comes into the picture. Practicing mindfulness can enhance your capacity to comprehend and manage the personal struggles each team member brings to the table - whether it's illness, death, divorce, or any other personal challenge. In this issue, we’ll dive into the power of mindfulness and how it can foster resilience, growth, and robust team dynamics.
The journey to becoming a more mindful leader isn't a binary process - you're not either a mindful leader or not. It's more of a continuum, with varying degrees of mindfulness.
The Power of Being In-Touch: Cultivating Empathy and Awareness
First, let’s clear the air: being a mindful leader, at least as I’ve experienced it, is NOT about manifest destiny and spiritual awakening (not that there’s anything wrong with that—more power to you!). Mindfulness, especially as a new team leader, in my observations and experiences can be / should be more practical.
Mindfulness is about fully immersing yourself in the present moment, heightening your awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and surroundings. In the realm of leadership and management, mindfulness goes beyond personal practice; it involves being in-touch with your team, empathizing with their experiences and understanding their struggles. This degree of awareness can pave the way to stronger bonds, enhanced trust, and improved team dynamics.
But it's important to remember that the journey to becoming a more mindful leader isn't a binary process - you're not either a mindful leader or not. It's more of a continuum, with varying degrees of mindfulness. And that's perfectly okay. The goal isn't to achieve a perfect state of mindfulness but to continually strive for greater awareness and empathy in your leadership role.
Here are three key benefits that you can reap by integrating mindfulness into your leadership:
Enhanced Communication: Being present and actively listening paves the way for a climate where open, honest communication thrives. This encourages your team to share their thoughts, ideas, and feedback more freely, stimulating collaboration and innovation. In short, it aides with Psychological Safety.
Improved Decision-Making: A mindful approach helps you better comprehend the nuances and complexities of the situations you face. This enriched awareness can lead to more informed, empathetic decision-making, ultimately benefiting your team and the organization.
Increased Resilience: Recognizing and understanding the challenges your team members face enhances empathy and resilience. As you progress on your journey towards mindful leadership, you'll be better equipped to support your team during tough times, fostering growth and adaptability.
Implementing Mindfulness Practices in Your Leadership
Are you ready to harness the benefits of mindfulness and become a more in-touch leader? Here are a few tangible yet effective strategies to kickstart your journey.
Like any muscle, active mindfulness and empathy require consistent exercise. Every Sunday morning, I start my day by reading the same journal entry, a mantra, a reminder. It reads:
I lead at the will of others and at the speed of trust
Be mindful: care first. Stay in the moment. No phubbing.
Listen to understand, pause, and push for second order thinking. E.g., “I could be wrong about this”, or “Assume that I’m completely wrong about this…what would that look like?”
Instead of making the conversation about you, work to understand the other person’s perspective as well as they do. You don’t have to agree, but you do have an obligation to understand.
Debate & negotiate with the intent of finding common ground (minimum) or breakthrough (goal).
My personal mantra list goes on to talk about breathing, self-imposed ignorance, etc. More importantly, I make it a habit to revisit these points, as it's all too easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. I encourage you to try it for yourself. Make it a living document—refresh it and add to it periodically.
Additional Strategies to Consider
Practice Active Listening: Pay keen attention to what your team members express, both verbally and non-verbally. Ask open-ended questions and encourage them to voice their thoughts and feelings.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins: Dedicate time to connect with each team member individually. Use these check-ins as a platform to discuss their personal and professional challenges, provide support, and celebrate victories. My 1:1s with team members usually consist of three parts: connect (how are you?), remove barriers (how’s the business?), develop (still on track with your desired development?)
Develop a Mindfulness Routine: Aside from reading mantras or reminders, incorporate other mindfulness practices into your daily routine, such as meditation, deep breathing, or journaling. This will help you foster self-awareness and effectively manage stress, laying the foundation for more empathetic leadership.
The Enduring Impact of Mindful Leadership
By embracing mindfulness and progressively becoming a more in-touch leader, you'll nurture a resilient, growth-oriented team that's better equipped to tackle challenges and seize new opportunities. This approach won't just bolster your team members' well-being, but it'll also pave the way for enduring success for your organization.
Remember, the journey to becoming a mindful leader doesn't have to be daunting. Start with small steps. Maybe it's incorporating a five-minute mindfulness practice into your daily routine, or perhaps it's scheduling weekly 1:1s with your team members to understand their challenges better. And don't forget the power of mantras or reminders, like the ones I shared from my personal practice.
So, I leave you with this question: What can you do right now to implement mindfulness into your leadership style? Reflect on it. Your team, your organization, and most importantly, you yourself stand to gain a lot from this journey towards mindful leadership.