Submitted by Bonnie Kowaliuk, BA, BMT, MBA, MTA, RSW, Senses Mindfulness Coaching
The Need For Mindful Leaders
These past few years have taught us how critical it is to have leaders we can count on.
While some CEOs, business owners, and government representatives have adapted to uncertain pandemic conditions, others have unearthed a leadership void that we can’t quite escape. We’ve seen abuse of power, reactive actions, disconnected teams, and misaligned decisions made to the detriment of individuals, organizations, and communities. Some of us still feel scared and hopeless as we navigate these turbulent times. Many have lost loved ones, businesses, and life as they knew it. Others reconnected with what truly matters to reinvent themselves, start new ventures, and take risks. This unprecedented reality calls for responsive guidance as we continue to rebuild our inner and outer worlds. We need resilient leaders who can make conscious decisions grounded in their values and empower others to thrive.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness refers to a state of awareness emerging from your focus on the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s a natural ability that resides within us as human beings.
Being mindful means observing and accepting the here-and-now as it is, including your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and the environment around you.
According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness can help:
Develop effective emotion regulation
Decrease reactivity, stress, and anxiety
Promote empathy and self-compassion
Studies also show that mindfulness may be associated with less emotional exhaustion and higher job satisfaction in the workplace.
What is Mindful Leadership?
A mindful leader is someone who directs their employees, teams, organizations, and communities through a mindfulness state of being. Mindful leaders embrace moment-to-moment awareness to pay their full attention to what they are thinking, feeling, or doing and what is happening around them. They can observe and consciously act instead of mindlessly reacting to a situation. They are focused, open, curious, compassionate, and make sound decisions based on their mission, vision, and values. Mindful leadership is an authentic presence that serves others with intention.
How Can Mindfulness Support Leaders?
Research has singled out lack of self-awareness as one of the biggest factors that might derail high potential leadership development. Thus, the awareness that mindfulness brings represents one of the critical benefits of mindful leadership. We can observe how we regard ourselves and others, how our actions affect the world around us, and vice-versa. As leaders become more aware, they also get curious to discover what’s going on beyond their assumptions or limiting beliefs, broadening their perspective. Having a clear understanding of the present moment can also help them intercept reactive emotions, handle changing situations, and identify patterns.
Mindfulness helps us experience the ebb and flow of our minds with acceptance and without attachment or judgment. Instead of automatically responding to stressors or dwelling on what-ifs, mindful leaders leverage their moment-to-moment awareness to be more open and welcome what they can and cannot control. Acceptance does not mean being passive or giving up. It’s about letting what is be so that we can continue our journey.
Evidence shows that mindfulness may enhance resilience, especially when treating mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Mindfulness supports leaders in the face of adversity, helping them regulate their emotions and lowering their stress and reactivity. It allows them to embrace a sense of calmness and composure, even in the most difficult situations. Mindful leaders can adapt and learn from challenges, becoming resilient and creating lasting change as a result.
Inspires Values-Based Action
Studies claim that mindfulness may contribute to navigating barriers to values-based action, shedding light on what’s meaningful to us. Mindful leaders identify their personal and organizational core values and take action in alignment with them. They can dive deep, connect with their truth, and make choices rooted in their purpose.
How Can You Become a Mindful Leader?
Develop a Mindfulness Practice
Embrace mindfulness inside and outside the workplace by:
Setting a daily intention
Engaging in breathing exercises
You can be mindful as you do any daily activity—while brushing your teeth, cooking, eating, or walking. It’s more about paying non-judgmental attention to what you are doing than the task itself.
Find a Mindfulness Coach
A certified mindfulness coach offers the space and tools to help leaders explore themselves and reach inner wellness.
Seek mindfulness coaching tailored to your unique needs via:
Bring Mindfulness To The Workplace
Mindfulness programs and workshops are an excellent way to open up the door to mindfulness practices in the workplace. However, they are only a starting point.
Workplace wellness requires a systemic change to the traditional fast-paced corporate rhythm. It takes the joint effort of key stakeholders to endorse mindfulness training, embody, and commit to these practices daily until it becomes the fabric of the corporation.
Allowing space to ground, running mindful meetings, and encouraging people to make values-based decisions are some of the steps leaders can take to start building a mindful ecosystem.
Mindful Take Aways
Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to the present moment without reacting or trying to change it.
Mindful leaders are authentic, empathetic, and compassionate. They are fully present in what they do, inside and outside the organization.
Mindfulness can help leaders gain awareness, embrace acceptance, boost resilience, and take values-based actions as they guide their teams and communities toward clear goals.
Becoming a mindful leader does not happen overnight. Developing a personal practice, seeking support from a certified coach, and bringing mindfulness to the workplace can help sustain it and fuel impact.
We need mindful leaders to guide us as we continue to restore this fractured world.
Are you interested in cultivating mindfulness or honing your leadership skills?
About the Author
Bonnie Kowaliuk is an eclectic mindfulness coach and transformational leadership consultant with background designations as a registered social worker, accredited music therapist and workplace leadership consultant with an MBA in leadership, who over the course of the past 13 years has been exploring brain-based approaches to learning, transformational leadership, health and wellness. She recently completed her designation as a Fellow of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music which employs music integrated mindfulness and psychotherapeutic approaches to help address a range of issues from health and wellness to optimal learning and performance.
Bonnie is a CTI certified coach and is in process of completing her Certification in Mindfulness via Royal Roads. As a lifelong learner & change catalyst, she hopes to aspire growth, change and evolution in others and in organizations through her own example and her love to learn, live authentically and discover her true self. Bonnie can be contacted at email@example.com or via www.sensesmindfulness.com.