Cheat Sheet

Mindful Leadership For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Mindful Leadership For Dummies

By Juliet Adams

Research indicates that mindfulness can improve leadership productivity, creativity and capability. It encourages you to take better care of yourself, balancing must-do work activities with things that invigorate and nourish you at a deep level and increasing balance, perspective and fitness to lead whilst maintaining or improving productivity.

Grasping Mindful Leadership

Mindful leadership, simply described, is good leadership + mindfulness. Mindfulness can be defined as ‘the cultivation of metacognition (awareness of thoughts, emotions and sensations) to help you maintain an optimum mind state (open, calm, optimistic, energised)’.

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© Juliet Adams

When you are open, calm, optimistic and energised, you maximise your brain’s ability to function at its peak, which in turn helps you to be the best leader you can be.

This may sound deceptively simple, but remaining calm, open and energised when under pressure is a skill that needs conscious cultivation. The good news is that with a little time and effort, you can develop this skill. Attending taught workplace-focused mindfulness programmes, like WorkplaceMT, help you develop valuable skills to survive and thrive, whatever life throws at you.

Programmes like WorkplaceMT harness the power of neuroplasticity (your brain’s ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections throughout your life) to help you hardwire into your brain new ways of approaching, exploring and responding to life. For this reason, mindfulness training programmes are normally six to eight weeks in duration, as this duration is necessary to implement the changes you desire into your brain.

Exploring the Benefits of Mindful Leadership

Research illustrates that mindfulness can improve health and resilience, attention and concentration, self-awareness and management, and productivity. This diagram illustrates further the four key ways that mindfulness can help you to improve your leadership.

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© Juliet Adams
  • Mindful leaders are self-aware. Awareness of your thoughts, emotions and impulses enables you to gain perspective by breaking out of autopilot and habitual behaviours.
  • Mindful leaders are in tune with themselves, the environment and culture they work within and the people who work there.
  • Mindful leaders cultivate focus, clarity, creativity and optimism.
  • Mindful leaders build trust and support from their followers by balancing the needs of the organisation with the needs and aspirations of people.

Tips for Becoming a Mindful Leader

Mindfulness can help you reach your full potential as a leader. Here are some practical tips to get you started on your mindful leadership journey.

Cultivate self-awareness

Mindful leadership isn’t a quick fix; it’s a journey. The journey starts with a willingness to explore new ways of doing and being with an open mind. The more self-aware you are, the fitter you will be to lead others.

Help yourself before helping others

If you truly aspire to be a mindful leader, focus on cultivating mindfulness in yourself before trying to apply it to others. It’s easy to get caught up in the concept of mindfulness and its multiple benefits, but it’s more challenging to actually practice it yourself. Commit yourself to a minimum of six weeks’ study and practice to experience it for yourself (the good, the bad and the ugly!). This will give you the foundation knowledge essential for deciding on next steps for yourself, individuals or organisational practices.

Think big, think small

After you’ve practiced mindfulness for yourself for a while, you can start to consider how mindful principles can help individuals, groups, departments or the organisation as a whole. It’s always good to start with the big picture in mind but often more practical to start small and build on these small wins.

You should never force people to attend mindfulness training. Mindfulness involves thinking about thinking and a commitment to change at a deep and personal level. Not everyone is able or ready to commit to this. You can’t force people to change their mind! Start with enthusiastic early adopters. Provide an environment in which they can develop and flourish. Others will notice the difference in them and become curious to find out more, building momentum and enthusiasm to work in a new way. You can later harness this momentum and enthusiasm to change your organisation’s culture and working practices for the better.