3 Reasons for Managers to Study How to be More Mindful

More mindful leadership is a scientifically proven factor in enhanced job satisfaction and performance ratings of employees and an improved bottom line for your organisation. Read on to find out why managers should make Mindful Thinking a key strategy to adopt for the year ahead.

    by Carey-Ann Lordan
how to be more mindful
Image Source: Pixabay / Photography: Jerzy Gorecki

The subject of mindfulness and how to be more mindful was very much on the radar during 2016. Despite some cynics regarding it as somewhat of a new, novelty fad, mindful thinking as a conscious technique has been around since ‘Adam was a boy’.

“The first task of management has nothing to do with leading others; step one poses the challenge of knowing and managing oneself.”

However, despite its venerability, mindful thinking is certainly not obscure, obsolete, or an outdated anachronism.

Mindful thinking and mindfulness are far from obsolete, and even further from a fad, as should be clear from our introductory quote, by author, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman.

In fact, research shows that there is a trove of compellingly positive and persuasive empirical evidence that managers should study to appreciate why learning how to be more mindful is important for their businesses.

Mindfulness has two meanings. One is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something, and the second is more profound and inward—“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.

In the study of how to be more mindful, we start with definitions: mindfulness and mindful thinking improves three main qualities of attention in an individual: stability, control and efficiency.

Mindfulness boosts cognitive resources and breadth of attention, to help people juggle many events at once. It also increases an individual’s capacity to remain present, and reduces the mind’s futile wandering.

The latter accounts for almost half of the waking hours of the average person every day, so just think what you could manage in terms of focused efficiency and quality output if this time could be put to constructive use.

 

Managers’ New Year Resolution – Explore How to Be More Mindful

Quite apart from all of the individual benefits of learning how to be more mindful, there is an even more compelling and urgent reason for managers to consciously adopt mindfulness in their conduct in the workplace. There are three broad compelling reasons for managers, business owners and other leaders to adopt a more mindful approach to their leadership style.

 

1. The Ripple Effect of Positivity

Although mindfulness is an individual activity, there is a vast amount of evidence to suggest that it reaches far beyond the individual and extends to group relations and interpersonal behaviour, which has obvious implications for the workplace.

If you’ve studied how to be more mindful, you will know that mindful thinking instills a greater capacity within the individual for empathy and compassion. These qualities are often neglected by management amid the hubbub of day-to-day business activities, despite the huge body of evidence on how great leaders have consistently used these qualities in order to have a positive effect in the workplace when managing teams.

Don’t continue to ignore all the evidence in favour of mindfulness and emotional intelligence. The secret to transformation is within, not without. When unlocked and applied in your daily life, the results are positive and infectious.

The US pacifist and labor and civil rights leader, AJ Muste, provides at least one pertinent illustration of the power of self-awareness and mindfulness over external solutions, Muste, whose integrity won him a degree of respect that’s unusual for a voice of protest, once wrote: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

 

2. The Realities of Employee Perceptions of Leaders

According to Daniel Goleman, when it comes to employees’ contentment in their work environment it’s often the leader that really counts.

And indeed, from the audiobook Mindfulness @ Work, a conversation between Goleman and Jon Kabat-Zinn on leading with emotional intelligence, Goleman posits that more than two-thirds—between 50 percent and 70 percent—of employees perceive that their organisation’s climate is “attributable to the actions and behaviours of their leader”.

how to be more mindful

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This has clear implications, for immediate short-term professional efficiency and the health and effectiveness of relations between personnel, but also for bigger picture questions relating to the organisation’s human resources strategy.

Goleman writes. “A leader creates the environment that determines people’s moods at the office, and their mood, in turn, affects their productivity and level of engagement.”

 

3. Mindfulness Works, and Research Confirms It

Studies undertaken by researchers at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business in Singapore have explored the effect of supervisors’ mindful thinking traits on various aspects of employee wellbeing and performance.

Leading Mindfully: Two Studies on the Influence of Supervisor Trait Mindfulness on Employee Well-Being and Performance, involved 96 supervisors and subordinates from a variety of industries.

The researchers measured the level of mindful thinking and mindfulness in supervisors, in addition to their employees’ work-life balance, levels of emotional exhaustion and overall job performance.

Their results confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis that the more mindful the leader, the lower the employee’s emotional exhaustion. More mindful leadership was also associated with better work-life balance for the employee, and better overall job performance ratings of the employee.

The implications are clear: mindfulness, and learning how to be more mindful, is a win-win for managers, employees and the organisation’s bottom line.

If you heed no other reason for being a more mindful manager in 2017, at least give the findings of this study and other research some serious attention for the year ahead, and undertake some research on how to be more mindful in business.