Mindfulness can be both a barrier and an antidote to the many disrupting stresses and pressures leaders face
Leadership, as I define it, is the art of achieving progress through the involvement and actions of others. This makes leadership both an art and a science, though I daresay it is more art than science.
Mindfulness, as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn means “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
So, what does one have to do with the other? Aren’t leaders constantly aware of the present situations and challenges facing them?
Unfortunately, the honest answer is no. Some will be at times, but the large majority are not fully present and mindfully aware of present situations and circumstance, nor of the thoughts and feelings of those around them. This is especially true for the mid-level leaders in organizations who constantly feel pressures from both below and above to execute, lead, juggle, and make decisions with insufficient information and inadequate time.
One of the main reasons leaders are not fully present and aware of situations is the tremendous stress they are under caused by deadlines, decisions made by others, internal politics, career concerns, the pressures associated with personal financial stability, and the need for continuing their personal income flows.
These daily pressures and stresses accumulate and result in poor or less-than-optimal decision making by leaders at all levels of all organizations.
And that is where mindfulness comes in. As both a barrier and an antidote to the many disrupting stresses and pressures leaders face and confront. It is a prescriptive remedy, backed by recent rigorous scientific research, that the majority of leaders are neither aware of nor utilize.
While mindfulness practices, and the resultant benefits for decision making, thinking, and outcomes, have gotten a foothold within many Silicon Valley organizations, it has yet to become a mainstream skill for leaders.
This needs to change.
This article is excerpted from my recent book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes:How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership. It is available on Amazon in both paperback ($18.88) and Kindle ($7.88).