Mindful Leaders: An Introduction


Today I'd like to talk about mindful leaders; this is the start of a new series. I want to explore why it is important for leaders to be mindful; mindful of themselves, mindful of others, and mindful of the environment they operate in. Matt Tenney described a simple mantra for inspiring, effective, mindful leadership: “Cultivate peace of mind and go about doing good.”

If we as leaders go about our business not being mindful of ourselves, others, and the environment, we are operating on assumptions that are not necessarily true. Whilst most of us don't deliberately ignore what is happening around us, or even within ourselves, our busy lives, deadlines and the inevitable see of emails , DMs and calls, make us so reactive, that we don't take time to consider the ramifications of our actions. This can manifest in us not managing ourselves well, the misunderstanding of others, and a failure to see the environment shifting and changing which it is inevitably doing.

However, if we get this right and we are mindful of ourselves, others, and the environment, then we maximise our potential, the potential of others and can navigate the environment to our advantage.

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” According to Jack Kornfield. I believe we need a level of self-awareness in order to be able to be aware of others. It starts with us. We can all be busy for a reason, for a season, and life is like that, it has seasons. There are times where we do need to go beyond our normal capacity for work. But being mindful of our limitations, cognisant of our strengths, and being present, aware of our surroundings and our state of mind, enables us to operate at our potential best.

As it is with us, so it is with others. We should be mindful of our team, both as individuals and as a collective. This allows us to connect at an individual and group level, to leverage the collective potential of those we have authority over. There are inevitably those in authority over us as well. Our mindfulness should extend also to them, to serve them and help them achieve what is important to them.

Equally important are other stakeholders in our work or endeavours. Partnerships built on mutual respect, almost in a symbiotic relationship, are productive and sustainable. They lead to better commercial outcome. Matt Tenney wisely said, “The primary job of a leader is to serve, empower, and inspire greatness in others.” I think that describes it very well.

The mindful leader is also mindful of the environment they operate in. Especially as the environment is changing rapidly and is truly dynamic. Whilst that used to be an arguable variable, 2020 proved that change is often thrust upon us.

The saying, “today’s best will not meet tomorrows challenges’ has never been truer. Being mindful of trends, changes, and alternatives, and having a constant check on what's happening, internally and externally, allows us to recognise change. When the environment changes, the needs change which provides opportunities. Being mindful of our environment allows us to challenge the status quo in a way that is constructive given a dynamic environment. Something that is easy to say and incredibly hard to do, especially in larger organisations where defending the status quo has become a way of life for those wedded to old models. Never has it been truer to say that if you don't innovate, you'll die. Business models are failing faster than they ever have before and the digital revolution rolls on.

In this series we’ll be covering these three aspects of the Mindful Leader’s focus; Self, Others and the Operating Environment.

I'll leave the last word here to Amit Ray, a true leader in mindfulness who said, “Mindful leadership keeps you cool and energetic in any situation, so that you can make the best possible decisions.”

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