Overview: Mental strength is an essential leadership attribute and ability. It helps leaders be self-aware, resilient, and capable of inspiring followers. Mindfulness helps leaders achieve mental clarity and stability. Leadership coaching can help leaders develop mindfulness through practical exercises and habits.
If we were to ask managers whether they think they inspire subordinates, an overwhelming majority would say yes. If we asked employees whether they find their leaders inspirational, they would overwhelmingly say no.
The gap between how leaders perceive themselves and how employees see them is a matter of self-awareness or lack thereof, and the inability to understand the variables of the leadership equation. Leadership coaching has made it one of its top objectives to address this gap.
To be inspirational and motivating, leaders must be resilient, mature, present, and healthy. The expectations and pressures of modern leadership are many.
In addition to being good managers and financially skilled, intelligent leaders must find ways to consistently empower, motivate, and inspire teams. From the perspective of executive coaching, mindfulness and mindful leadership seem to be the key factors in inspiration.
How Mindfulness Boosts Leadership
Leadership coaching has always sought ways to help leaders become more self-aware, resilient, and present at the helm of companies and in the lives of peers and reports. Coaches can help leaders boost their mental strength by practicing mindfulness.
We have long known about the positive effects mindfulness can have on people’s abilities to focus, weather stress, and reduce anxiety. How does mindfulness fare in the context of leadership? What practices does it entail?
Establishing Presence Before Meetings
Leaders and organizations use meetings to get workforces on the same page about ongoing and planned projects. The utility of meetings is undeniable. How some leaders go about meetings is questionable at best.
Having a bit of water cooler chatter to warm up to the meeting, participants often lose interest in it and resort to checking their social media pages instead of paying attention and sharing input. Leaders may also fall into the trap of routine.
An interesting mindfulness practice is to allocate a minute at the beginning of the meeting to establish presence. Leaders may ask participants to do whatever they deem necessary to achieve full presence. The effects of the exercise may wear off, but the momentum of focused engagement it creates will carry through to the meeting to some degree.
In addition to the direct effects they have, such exercises also help leaders instill cultures of mindfulness in their organizations.
As life outpaces us with its ubiquitous distractions, finding offline time can create outstanding benefits for leaders and employees. Caught up in day-to-day tasks and overwhelmed by endless streams of social media and email notifications, leaders often have no time left to lead, engage, or inspire.
Setting aside offline time every day can do wonders for leaders’ abilities to focus, be present, and inspire.
Establishing a slot on the schedule for offline time is the easy part of the exercise. It’s more challenging to keep it safe from intrusion, especially long-term.
Co-workers, managers, friends, family, and business partners will try to carve out slices of this precious distraction-free time. To continue enjoying its benefits, leaders must resist such attempts.
Executive coaching can help leaders understand the benefits they’ll derive from carving out time to practice mindfulness and focus.
Turning Mindfulness into a Habit
Leadership coaching aims to help leaders develop certain behaviors they can then turn into habits, reshaping their leadership. Mindfulness is another behavior worthy of being transformed into a habit.
Leaders can set time aside to practice it, but they can practice mindfulness informally as they go about their day-to-day activities. Achieving mindfulness is as simple as focusing on the subtle hum of the city at night or listening to one’s breathing during a bus ride.
Successful leaders understand the role mental strength plays in leadership. They know practicing mindfulness is one of the most effective ways to boost this scarce leadership resource.