The Mindful Leader

As a leader, letting go of control over a situation or person takes practice and discipline. No matter if you are a leader of a formal group or one who emerged out of necessity, leadership fulfills the purpose of getting things done through others.  What I find absolutely intriguing is why some leaders are phenomenal at working with others to accomplish success, and some leave a wake of dead bodies behind them.  While there are many reasons successful leaders succeed, I want to focus on one thing specifically – mindfulness.

First, let me define mindfulness.  It’s a person’s ability to vigilantly observe what is unfolding around him and remaining open to what is happening.  A mindful leader recognizes what is unfolding around him and can let go of control without much thought.

Mindfulness is about awareness of what is said and not said. What is done and not done. To cultivate mindfulness as a leader, you must be willing to get in tune with others.  This ability serves as a powerful way of being that can strengthen working relationships to the level of deep and lasting success.  Imagine working with someone or a group of people where your unspoken words speak as loud as your spoken words.  This is made possible because you are aware of each other’s presence, silence, and actions.  A successful leader doesn’t focus on letting go of control, but on responding to a situation based on the circumstances.

Surely it takes skill to strengthen your mindfulness.  That skill relies heavily on observation. In a separate blog post, I shared 5 observations that are critical to cultivating mindfulness.  The mindful leaders I had the pleasure to work alongside also had these tremendous abilities:

Constantly question your own worldview. Your worldview is how you make sense of the world shaped by your life experiences. Mindful leaders recognize the importance of challenging and letting new ideas become part of the lens through which they see the world.

Surround yourself with opposites. Build relationships with a diverse mix of people who challenge how you think.  If you’re not a numbers guy, be sure you have a few in your inner circle.  If you’re a numbers guy, be sure to have creative, expressive people in your inner circle. Like-minded groups run the risk of mediocre results.

Meditate or pray. Okay, I might turn a few of you off with this. Hear me out though.  One reason meditation or prayer is helpful is that it forces you to focus on other people.  It also forces you to slow down the pace of your life. Mindfulness is an outcome of either practice.

Cultivating mindfulness is a powerful way of building teams and causing results.  For leaders in our complex, dynamic world, you must also know when to find your neutral gear to more fully understand situations that require your input or decision. Mindfulness allows you to find "neutral" and then power back into fourth or fifth gear.

What do you do to strengthen your ability in mindfulness?

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