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Mindful Leadership: Five Characteristics of a Mindful Leader

Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant

Mindful Leadership: Five Characteristics of a Mindful Leader

If you aspire to become a mindful leader and embrace mindful leadership within your team or business, it is essential to begin by asking yourself a series of difficult questions. While these questions might not be the easiest to answer, it is imperative to answer them with honesty and transparency. The questions are as follows:

1) What is your motivation for leading?

2) Are you in a leadership role because you enjoy control, power, and fame?

3) Are you leading to serve or leading to be served?

4) Are you willing to put the interests of your team/business ahead of your own interests?

By asking yourself these questions on a frequent basis (and answering them completely honestly!), you are practising what many describe as ‘mindful leadership’. Leading without ego and out the interest of others before yourself are also keys to becoming a successful mindful leader.

To give you a few more nudges in the right direction, here are five characteristics you should focus on developing.

Five Characteristics of a Mindful Leader

#1 – Always Lead By Example

Mindful leadership centres around several traits and characteristics, but not expecting others to things that you are not willing to do is at the very core of this. If you do not exhibit this trait, it may lead to a complete disconnect between your team/entire workforce and the leadership, which can erode trust over time. People in positions of leadership must be aware that their attitude and behaviour will impact and influence the culture of their team/business and this working under them. 

#2 – Appreciate and Recognise 

Getting paid is not always the be-all and end-all; some individuals need to be both recognised and appreciated for their constant hard work and effort. Frequent appreciation is particularly essential as it helps to balance out any negative feedback that leaders, at times, need to to provide. A team member or employee who is properly recognised and appreciated will be far more engaged and motivated, and it’s more likely that they’ll stay loyal rather than looking elsewhere for job roles.

#3 – Humility 

Unfortunately, many people view humility as a lack of confidence, a sign of weakness, or both. In reality, it means neither; in fact, humility has been described not as thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. A humble leader has the ability to recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and have the courage to ask for assistance when they need it. Being a humble leader means being open to receiving feedback and examining their own shortcomings when goals have not bee attained, rather than immediately blaming others around them, i.e. their team/workforce.

#4 – Compassionate Communication

We all know how powerful words can be, both in a positive and negative sense; therefore, it is absolutely vital for leaders to communicate with complete compassion. Being aware of your emotions prior to responding to any form of communication, be it electronic or in-person is crucial. Always take the time to think about whether or not the response you’re about to give is 100% honest and will be beneficial to the recipient. Although it may not always be possible to meet both of these criteria, if you’ve take sufficient time to be as compassionate and thoughtful with your communication as possible, it increases the chances of a positive outcome for all involved.

#5 – Emotionally Balanced

Frequent meditation and mindfulness practise can help a person become aware of their feelings and emotions and why they’re experiencing them. This is particularly useful during periods of hectic work schedules. Utilising mindfulness allows us a short while to take a step back, calm ourselves, and reflect on our actions, so we don’t act based on emotion and do something we could potentially regret. Furthermore, it can help us to boost your emotional intelligence, something that enables us to become aware of and understand someone else’s perspective, ultimately becoming more sympathetic to their needs.