Three Important Roles That Mindfulness Play In Leadership

“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”
– Thích Nhất Hạnh

The ability to remain calm under pressure and stay focused in the midst of problems  – these are just a few traits we expect from people of great wisdom and character. Since we usually hold leaders in high esteem, it is but natural for us to assume (or require) that the head of a group possesses the said characteristics. However, as the world continues to get increasingly competitive, staying cool amid stressful situations is definitely not easy. One thing that can help leaders overcome this challenge is through mindfulness.

What is mindfulness and how to practice it?

We are often oblivious to it but our minds tend to wander all the time. This is why in one or more instances, you probably find yourself guilty of the phrase, “physically present but mentally absent.”  You want to avoid this by practicing mindfulness which is simply the process of training your mind to stay in the moment. Mindfulness can trace its origins in Buddhist teachings and has been used as a basis in designing therapy and wellness programs. 

It is a process of controlling thoughts so you manage to deliver the most appropriate reaction to a certain situation. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are some of the techniques you can use to develop mindfulness. Since mindlessness potentially robs you of the opportunities of the present moment, everyone is bound to benefit from practicing mindfulness. It will most especially be helpful in improving leadership skills. Some of the benefits a leader can gain from it are briefly discussed below:

Promotes self-care.

Too often, leaders find themselves juggling several tasks at once as they try to fulfill  the enormous responsibilities that come with their position. Sadly, this attitude often leads to burnout and stress. Mindfulness, on the other hand opens your eyes to the reality that multitasking does not always lead to productivity. It teaches you to slow down and relax, allowing you to give yourself proper care.  By making self-care a priority, you also make work-life balance possible. In the end, a well-rested leader is most often a better leader. 

Improves work quality.

Mindfulness encourages your mind to tackle one task at a time. This practice may seem to be a slow process compared to others who try to do several things simultaneously. However, giving one task your undivided energy and attention will likely result in an output of higher quality. With more time to polish your work, you also avoid errors and create excellent work.

Strengthens mind power. 

We live in an unpredictable world but while it is almost impossible to control many circumstances, mindfulness teaches us that we can always control our reactions to it. Leaders who follow this principle learn to deal with any situation without breaking down or panicking. As they train their minds to rise above any circumstances, they can successfully avoid being distracted in a chaotic environment. They can likewise be able to make better decisions even during a crisis. 

Leadership is definitely not easy but it doesn’t have to feel like a heavy weight on your shoulders all the time. More likely, a simple change in your mindset can make all the difference. With that, you may want to begin practicing mindfulness today. 

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3 Ways Wise Leaders Make Team Meetings More Productive

Along with so many other responsibilities, a leader is also tasked to call and conduct team meetings. Unfortunately, a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review showed that not everyone is thrilled to attend meetings. For many people, sitting through a meeting is unnecessary, boring, and unproductive. Others even blame meetings for failure to finish an assigned task. Still, in spite of its unpopularity, team meetings are not something you can easily dismiss. 

These scheduled sessions serve many important purposes such as keeping up with members, updating overall goals, and discussing solutions to problems. Therefore, it is a challenge for leaders to ensure that the time taken  to talk with the whole team will not go to waste. With a few pointers, you can make a group look forward to insightful and productive meetings. Check out the following suggestions:

Announce the key questions/topics beforehand.

Ideally, a leader expects everyone in the meeting to actively participate but this is not always the case. Often, the leader and a few people are the only ones doing the talking while the majority choose to sit back and keep silent. It is not entirely because some people are uninterested or have no ideas to share. Most probably, some people just need some time to think things through and understand a topic before blurting out their opinions. Others may also hesitate to talk for fear of committing mistakes. To give everyone a chance to speak their mind, a leader can inform the team of the topics to be discussed and the questions to be asked before the actual meeting takes place. This way, meetings cease to feel like a classroom setting where students are about to take an oral exam. Instead, you give everyone a chance to prepare about the topics and ponder the answers to give. Moreover, this technique even increases the chance to get better suggestions from the team.

Prepare an agenda and follow a schedule. 

Meetings are notorious for being time-wasters. Due to dilly-dallying and pointless talks, a one-hour meeting can easily turn into a 4-hour discussion. The worst part is to discover that in the end, no issue was resolved or any plan created. To avoid these traps, it is a must to set clear objectives for every meeting organized. Along with setting goals, the leader should also prepare a detailed timetable of the flow of the meeting. A specific time should be set for each topic or issue so the leader will be alert when the team is already spending way too much time on a small issue. It will also prevent the meeting from going towards the wrong direction. To make it a team goal to achieve something worthwhile in the meeting, it is best if the leader lays out the agendas for everyone to see. 

 Hold meetings in a new location.

Take note of how people react when you remind them about an upcoming meeting. If your meeting reminder is rarely met with enthusiasm, a simple change of venue can make all the difference. You may have been conducting your meetings in a specific room in your office for the longest time so how about booking a place where the whole gang can go to discuss? The change of scenery is likely to spark excitement so the meetings can also serve as an easy treat for the group. This simple change shows how a leader values the meeting time and can ultimately inspire members to contribute more to achieving the goals for the discussion.

Meetings and the way you conduct them are crucial in the growth and success of a team. Among others, it can prevent miscommunication problems and boost everyone’s spirit. If not done right though, inefficient meetings can even prevent a team from reaching targets. A great leader knows the right techniques to make every meeting a big step towards the completion of goals. 

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Four Ways To Genuinely Show Empathy In Leadership

Do you want to get a glimpse of the kind of leadership that makes an outstanding organization? You can by simply observing those in leadership roles. In a team headed by a great leader, people do their tasks with passion and commitment. If only all companies were driven by great leaders, the world would be a much better place. Too often we see people expressing discontentment over management styles. In this unfortunate scenario, people tend to be unmotivated and underachieve. This brings to mind the age-old question of what makes a good leader? However, with all the traits that differentiate a great leader from a bad one, empathy is certainly one of them. The ability to put oneself in another’s shoes is surely a trait that all leaders need to learn. In a way, good leadership without empathy seems impossible. The following four pointers will show how you as a leader can show empathy.

Display emotional intelligence.

Empathy is a trait that allows you to relate to the circumstances of others. It requires one to be patient, caring and kind. It is also something that is hard to fake. Leaders who want to show empathy have to start the process within themselves. The first step is to develop positive traits associated with emotional intelligence. Build a character that others would like to emulate and empathy will come naturally.

Truly listen.

It isn’t unusual for people to approach a leader for some wise words or advice. Sometimes the best support a leader can give is simply lending an open ear. Allot time to listen to what people on your team have to say about certain topics, projects or issues. Great leaders don’t just do all the talking. On the contrary, they continually encourage others to share their opinions or ideas.

Learn and understand the work each person on your team does.

Problems are likely to arise on a team where leaders have little to no inkling about the job that each person on the team does. This stresses the importance of having a broad understanding of the work that everyone is doing, even if a certain skill is not part of your expertise. You should take time to understand the skills needed and challenges involved in each project. It can be done by studying the nature of your employee’s job or spending time with team members while they do the task. Aside from making it easier to show practice empathy to others, it can also raise the spirits of team members.

Show your vulnerable side.

It is important for leaders to appear strong. But no one said you can’t show vulnerability. In fact, leaders who are honest about their strengths and weaknesses can help others become more comfortable around them. Leaders who share how they overcome past difficulties with others makes it easy for people to share and bond over their own experiences as well.

Anyone who aspires to be a leader should understand the great challenges that come with the role. In fact, if you would ask someone to write down all the traits and attributes that an excellent leader should have, you may end up with a long, never-ending list. One trait that will always be present? Empathy. To aim to be empathetic is always a great idea; it will make you an exceptional leader and a better person, too.

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