Becoming a More Mindful Leader

Joe Weinlick
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Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and present in the moment. When you apply this concept to your leadership, it can be transformative — for both you and your team. By becoming a more mindful leader, you can reduce stress, increase engagement and be a more effective manager.

Give Yourself Time to Think

When you're managing a business, it's easy to fill every minute with tasks and meetings, leaving little time to process. This go-go-go mindset can increase the stress level for everyone in the office. One way to become a more mindful leader is to schedule time to think. Turn off your phone, step away from your computer and give your mind the freedom to wander — take a stroll during lunch, enjoy breakfast alone or get in a workout. These short breaks give you a respite from the constant demands of work, which can be a serious stress-reliever. Plus, by allowing your mind the simple luxury of free time, you leave space to form creative solutions to current work problems.

Focus on the Task at Hand

Have you ever sat through a meeting for one project while worrying about another task? If so, you know how this scenario makes it difficult to provide your best guidance. Part of becoming a more mindful leader is learning to focus on the task at hand. When you do, it's easier to engage fully with your employees and offer valuable input. To start, try to be aware when your mind wanders. The act of noticing is often enough to snap you back into the present. If that's not enough, it can be helpful to add reminders. Put up a "be present" flyer on the conference room bulletin board, set alerts on your phone or add a sticky note to your day planner.

Try Mini-Meditations

Meditation forces you to slow down and step into the present moment, which can be tough to do when work is chaotic. Don't worry if you don't have 15 minutes free — even mini-meditations can help you be a mindful leader. Whenever you feel the pressure and stress building, take a few minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply. During that time, focus on your breathing and let all other thoughts float by. This process helps you relax, ease muscle tension and clear your brain. That way, you can go back to work feeling less stressed and ready to be productive.

Practice Mindful Listening

Being an effective, mindful leader requires you to be present in conversations with your employees. If you find your mind wandering, try to be a better listener. Instead of thinking about how to respond, focus on what the person is saying. To keep yourself engaged, it's helpful to notice the person's facial expressions and body language. Is he tense? Can you sense anger under the surface? Try to see the situation from his point of view. This practice keeps you involved in the conversation and, as a bonus, helps you respond more effectively.

Being a more mindful leader can reduce your stress level and help you stay engaged in daily tasks. As a result, you can boost productivity and create a happier work environment. Do you know of other ways to stay alert while at work? Share them in the comments below.

Photo Courtesy of World Economic Forum at


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