03Mindful Leadership

Why mindfulness is important for leadership?

Leadership is a process that a leader influencing and guiding a group of followers to accomplish shared tasks or achieve goals.  Mindfulness is currently recognized as a foundational state or trait and practice for effective leadership.  There are a number of connections between mindfulness and leadership that explain why mindfulness is important for leadership.

Mindfulness practice cultivates present-moment attention that reduces unhealthy aspects of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.  Leaders who are more present while engaging with their employees make their followers feel being respected, appreciated and acknowledged.  In mindfulness practice, leaders set the intention of self-regulating their attention to a particular stimulus.  Through regular practice, leaders learn to keep their intention in mind when achieving their goals or making decisions. 

Mindfulness practice is also related to the cultivation of self-compassion.  If leaders can develop self-compassion in the face of failure in their leadership or achieving their goals, they will be less self-critical and frustrated when facing unexpected failure.  This may increase the likelihood of the leaders to persist in the face of repeated failure.  The cultivation of self-compassion may also extent to compassion for their followers, which is important for managing employees with limitations and setbacks.

As a leader, witnessing awareness is very important for de-identifying with one’s ego involvement and ego defensiveness in leading followers.  Mindfulness practice involves witnessing or, or awareness of, one’s experience, including emotions, thinking, bodily sensations, etc.  In this sense, a mindful leader are more likely to be aware of one’s unwholesome ego involvement in decision making or interaction with followers.  This helps leaders to make effective and wholesome decisions towards organizational goals rather than to protect or advance one’s ego.

Mindfulness is not a concrete management strategy for leaders to apply specifically in management.  It is, in fact, a way of being and practice for leaders to acquire important basic qualities as a foundation for applying different management strategies in their leadership.

How can leaders cultivate mindful leadership?

It is important for leaders to develop a regular formal mindfulness practice, such as sitting meditation to cultivate the above mindfulness dimensions.  Mindfulness-based programs, such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Workplace Mindfulness Training (WorkplaceMT) provide teaching or training for leaders to learn how to do formal mindfulness practice, as well as, developing a regular practice pattern.

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