Better leadership through mindfulness

20 July 2018

Mindfulness has been embraced by many high-profile companies.1 This hugely popular mind-body practice aims to help you be aware of your present situation and focus, which can have benefits in terms of both employee wellbeing and productivity.1 But in addition to these potential plus points, have you considered using the principles of mindfulness to improve your own leadership skills?2

Whether you lead a team or a whole organisation, read on for three ways in which mindfulness may enhance this area of your work.

1. Focusing your vision

Many of us pride ourselves on being able to juggle different work demands. Yet multi-tasking might mean you begin lots of different jobs without completing any of them, which can soon become exhausting. Instead, try the following:

  • Attempt to really focus on the job you are doing right now, and bring it to a sensible conclusion before starting the next.
  • If your mind begins to wander, gently pull it back by paying attention to your breathing. Allow yourself one minute to focus on your breathing (set a timer if this will help). Once you feel ready you can return to the task.
  • Share the technique with your team. Set the example and encourage them to see if working mindfully helps them too.

2. Knowing yourself

Self-awareness is a key part of both mindfulness and great leadership. Try the following steps:

  • Begin by acknowledging your own feelings, and accepting your strengths and weaknesses. Then notice the reactions of those around you and respond appropriately.
  • Be open and empathetic in your conversations. If you see a team member becoming stressed, take the time to talk to them, give them permission to take a break and slow down.

3. Adopt an approach-led leadership style

Mindfulness can be part of a change in your management style:

  • Move away from an avoidance-led style of leadership, whereby you concentrate on risks and avoiding them.
  • Instead, try adopting an approach-led style of leadership. Leaders who think like this are creative, and have the ability to spot potential and seek rewards. They’re also often a pleasure to work with, and bring out the best in other people.

Train your brain to follow an approach-led way of thinking through regular mindfulness practice both in and out of work. Then watch as the benefits become apparent – you should gradually notice them enjoying a more open environment where communication flows, people feel valued and expectations are exceeded.


1 Building the case for mindfulness in the workplace. The Mindfulness Initiative. Published October 2016,
2 Reb J, Narayanan J, Chaturvedi S et al. Leading Mindfully: Two Studies on the Influence of Supervisor Trait Mindfulness on Employee Well-Being and Performance. Mindfulness, 2014l;5(1):36-45. DOI: 10.1007/s12671-012-0144-z.

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