Have you noticed how mindfulness has become a buzzword, with many organisations adopting mindful practices in their leadership development, and others rejecting the notion outright as eastern “woo-woo”? 

What exactly is mindfulness, and why is it a critical tool for leaders?

I define mindfulness as being fully present in this moment, without judgement and with self-compassion. There are three critical elements of this definition:

  1. Deliberately choosing to pay attention to this moment. This requires you to make a conscious choice and often transcend your mind’s attraction to distraction.
  2. Letting go of all expectations of how this moment should be, not pushing any discomfort away or pulling anything towards you by wishing that the situation was different.
  3. Holding yourself in compassion and being kind to yourself for whatever thoughts and feelings are ignited within you. Experiencing those feelings, even if they are negative, without the accompanying narrative that may be berating you for not being good enough etc. This is about witnessing how external situations trigger your thoughts and feelings, without getting caught up and swept away by them. 

Mindfulness is a valuable tool for leaders, as it grounds us to be fully present and aware to make deliberate choices and decisions. This allows you to operate from a place of conscious awareness, rather than reacting out of emotion or fear. 

Over time, with continued practice, you become aware of your leadership behaviours and habits.  Building the essential skill of self awareness, from which all change starts.