One of the liveliest conversations we have in group-coaching sessions or one of my university career classes happens when the subject turns to that of bad bosses …
The manager who tells you literally in passing that no one likes the meetings you run.
The supervisor who yells at you in front of customers for being 5 minutes late.
The boss who mocks your input in front of staff who report to you.
The chairperson who announces – by email, without warning – that she’s dropping the popular course you’ve been teaching for 2 years.
Ah … good times. It’s not a stunner that a recent Gallup poll says 50 percent of employees quit their jobs because of a bad boss.
Fortunately, in class and coaching sessions we move on quickly from these negative scenarios. Obviously, this is a whole lot easier to do when merely discussing them vs living them.
We use these all-too-common and all-too-relatable bad boss tales as a contrasting lead-in to our discussion about the qualities that effective, respected and successful leaders possess. And what are the traits fine bosses tend to share? The very same qualities mindful leaders possess.
Mindfulness is a skill that involves simply noticing the way things are. By paying careful attention to how things are in a nonjudgmental way, we are able to see far more accurately what is happening and to respond far more effectively in all areas of our lives.
A mindful leader is someone who embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others. In regular speak, that means they:
Listen deeply with their full attention as you speak;
Use precise language when they speak so there is no murkiness;
Approach solutions with an open, creative mind; and
Treat you as they themselves would like to be treated.
My kind of boss!
The good news is that one of the trends that’s been percolating and gaining steam in the work space is the infusion of mindfulness as a way to boost engagement and cultivate exceptional performance from our most important resource: our people. In fact, in 2016 a reported 22 percent of companies provided mindfulness training with many more taking it on last year and now in 2018.
Practicing mindfulness and manifesting its benefits in the professional setting is incredibly impactful for you and your own joy, fulfillment and success as well as those you manage. Here are 10 of the most powerful ways you can be a great boss of yourself and to others by leading mindfully:
1) Be Here Now!
Being here now means you are totally present. You aren’t thinking about the conversation you had with your spouse this morning or worrying about the dentist trip you have tomorrow. Instead, you are seeing and hearing and focused on only what is right before you in this very moment. This allows you to make clearer decisions without other issues distracting you or clouding you judgment.
2) Know Thy Self
If you are mindful you know exactly what mood, reaction or emotion is bubbling within yourself at any given moment. This means you are well dialed in to your internal compass and won’t be blindsided by your moods or emotions and the person with whom you are speaking won’t be either.
3) Stay Calm & Carry On
One of the biggest benefits of mindfulness is the way it reduces our stress. Lower stress levels allow we mindful leader types to remain cool, which helps those around us not overreact either. This doesn’t mean we are a passive pile of mush; we are the opposite of that – strong, in control and calm in the face of both opportunity and challenge.
4) Focus, Focus, Focus
When you are focused, you direct energy and resources to accomplish your top priorities. This sure beats being scattered and attempting to juggle too many things at once! When mindful, you are able to concentrate on whatever you feel is most important in the moment before moving on to your next priority. No silly multitasking here!
5) Be Predictable
A natural extension of having presence, calm and focus is acting with consistency. Mindfulness helps us establish predictable behavior and responses to people or situations. This means your boss doesn’t one day think your project management style is stellar and the next day shoddy, depending on what kind of day she is having. Instead, her reactions, directions and feedback are consistent and you know what to expect.
6) Be Oh So Clear
When you are clear and intentional with your thoughts and words, you are able to express yourself in a cogent, direct manner, avoiding hazy ambiguities that can send you off in an unintended direction and confuse the heck out of your staff.
7) Embrace Positivity
Mindful leaders are a pleasure to be around for many reasons, the least of which is because we expect good things to happen. We are realistic optimists who aren’t whiny, oversensitive, suspicious or negative. Our outlook inspires those around us and our positive approach can be catching.
8) Feel & Express Plenty Of Empathy
Ah empathy. This may be my favorite quality in humans! Leaders with high levels of empathy treat other beings the same way they would like to be treated. They are able to see issues from others’ perspective, which results in their making decisions that are fair, compassionate and focused on the value it produces for all involved.
9) Burst with Integrity
As you might imagine, mindful leaders have a ton of integrity. They’re honest and courageous and accept responsibility for their actions. Taking personal responsibility for our actions is a biggie and not something everyone does easily or readily. The more you do it, the less you play the blame game and the better and more responsible your decisions and actions become.
10) Own Your Innovative Mindset
Change is happening at a faster pace than ever, so we need to be able to bring creative approaches and an innovative mindset to our professions continually in order to stay ahead of the curve. These are two of the most highly sought after strengths a leader can have as problem solving, decision making, product and service development and delivery, and loads more actions are all made better, more interesting and more dynamic when creativity and innovation enter the picture. You’re far more likely to produce high value outcomes and be seen as a high value leader.
So, there are your top 10 ways to be a great boss, mindfully. Thinking of the bosses you have had, how mindful have they been? How many of these mindful leader traits do you possess?
For The Job- Or Career-Changer
As I mentioned earlier, the first step in becoming a mindful leader of others is to become a mindful leader of ourselves. If you’d like to learn more about how you can incorporate mindfulness in to your personal and professional life, grab my Mind Over Scatter mini-guide and watch for more on the topic from Love Monday soon.
If you are in the process of a job- or career-change, one of the aspects you will be considering is the type of workplace culture in which you would thrive most:
What does your research tell you about the management style of an organization?
Is mindful leadership mentioned?
Are terms such as open, collaborative, employee-centric, enrichment and engagement used?
How about the benefits it provides?
Does it offer a mindfulness space or yoga classes?
Are those elements important to you?
If you are a mindful leader now or you’re one in the making, how are you communicating these highly sought-after traits on your resume and in job interviews?
Here’s to leading mindfully and to no more bad bosses!
P.S. If those four bosses I described at the start of the article had been mindful, how might they have handled things better?
P.S.S. You likely have some bad boss doozies of your own or some wonderful examples of yourself or another as a mindful boss, so do tell – I’d love to hear them! Share a comment below or email me.