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When leading your teams through times of tumultuous change such as dealing with Covid-19, one of the most powerful methodologies at your disposal is free to use and always available. Mindful leadership is a practical, proven way to make sure your people feel supported amidst a storm of uncertainty. When they do, you’ll have the best chance of navigating the new normal.
So, let’s explore the benefits of mindfulness and how this could benefit our leadership skills.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of cultivating awareness so that you can be responsive rather than reactive. It’s about being fully present with what’s happening now so that you can navigate life with a sense of calm and clarity.
Consider there are two main functions our brains perform during mindful meditation:
- The generation of thoughts, feelings and emotions – these are transient and can change from one moment to the next;
- The observation of information, data and feedback without judgment, evaluation or criticism, or without even trying to make sense of it.
We learn to listen to and accept the thoughts and feelings that arise within us. By practicing this technique, you put yourself back in the pilot seat.
Why Mindfulness is Important
Understanding why the brain thinks and reacts certain ways to different situations can help owners take greater control of the myriad of stressful moments that arise when running a business.
Since everyone is looking for some type of competitive advantage in their marketplace, perhaps getting to know our own brains and coaching them to work for us is the greatest advantage yet.
Here are a few ways that mindfulness can take your business to the next level:
- Lowers your stress levels;
- Makes you more empathetic to the needs of your employees and your clients;
- It can improve your self-confidence, helping you with decision making;
- It can help you be more creative; and
- It can heighten productivity.
As business leaders, we now have an empirically tested tool which better equips us to navigate emotionally and mentally any stormy waters that might lie ahead.
You’ll not only leap leagues ahead of your competition, but you’ll also move faster and further toward your chosen goals.
Don’t just take my word for it ….
Mindfulness is finally starting to receive recognition for its effectiveness in creating a peak performance mindset. Widely used by elite athletes, it is increasingly being adopted by business leaders as a contemplation skill to increase resilience, reduce stress, and regain clarity and focus. You strengthen your capacity to face adversity with greater mental composure and emotional stability.
In recent years, mindfulness has become a staple of mental health and wellness in corporations such as Spotify, Google, Goldman Sachs, and others.
There’s a reason companies are including this as a requirement for their teams: it works, in various ways for different participants.
How can Mindful Leadership help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic?
As the government has unveiled its lockdown easing strategy week by week, business leaders have moved through several different stages at lightning speed. First, there was the immediate need to assess the commercial impact of the pandemic. Then the urgency of getting teams up and running remotely. Fast forward just a few weeks and all eyes are on the road to recovery.
Before your business regroups to figure out what that looks like and how to make it happen, – pause for a moment. Remember that this economic downturn is also a human crisis. Now, more than ever before, all the plans that make so much sense on paper must consider the wellbeing of your people. To put it bluntly, if they don’t, they’re not going to work.
In all the countless conversations I have had about lockdown with clients, family, and friends one consistent thread is emerging. Lockdown has been a time for reflecting on what’s important, realigning our values and reassessing our priorities.
People first (Because let’s face it, what is any business without people?)
We are all in recovery right now. We’re all making decisions about what the new normal will be and how it will unfold, in both a business and a personal sense. For leaders, many of these decisions are tough ones. And they are being made against a backdrop of deep urgency to get the business moving forward.
The go-to response to this can be fast, process-led solutions to drive profits. But the smartest solutions go beyond the obvious to the real bottom line of the business: its people.
It’s not rocket science. But it will fuel your recovery.
So, lead mindfully. Focus on the human recovery in your business as lockdown eases. It’s not complicated; it’s a combination of common sense and compassion – and it’s cost-free. Here are three key things to keep in mind:
Be present; in each moment, be fully with what’s happening. When you say, ‘How are you?’ or ‘How’s the family?’, don’t just throw it out there before moving swiftly on to talk about productivity. Listen, really listen, to the answer. Give it your full attention. Having a genuine interest in your people’s lives has always been helpful. Now it’s essential to getting the business moving forward through open, honest, conversations.
Be inclusive; your own perspective is just that. Seeing things only from this viewpoint can get you stuck in habitual responses. And if leaders stay stuck in habitual responses, so will the organisation. As Einstein said, ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’ Get everyone involved in planning the road ahead; make them a team of critical friends who will challenge you in order to move things from good to great.
Be decisive; sometimes, decisions come easily. -we just know. Other times we feel pressured to decide at all costs. However you can’t think yourself into a decision when you don’t know the answer yet. So, tune into your innate wisdom. When do your best ideas come? I wouldn’t mind betting it’s out of the blue – when you’re on a run, in the shower, or talking with friends. Sometimes looking away from the need to decide can bring the decision to you.
These things may seem obvious. Common sense is not always common practice in the race to get back up and running.
Consistently anchoring your leadership approach in these universal human traits will go a long way to supporting your teams’ recovery.
By investing in their trust, wellbeing and commitment, you will be investing directly in your future.
Dealing with considerable uncertainty at the present may need a different approach. Also, be mindful if you do need help to get there.
To instill these into your own business, talk to your local ICON advisor today.