In our blog series on neuroleadership, Paul Mudd discusses how mindfulness can make you a better leader
As a manager you are expected to inspire, motivate, engage and be the best you can be? This also means you need to care!
Forward thinking employers like Google and Apple believe that by hiring managers who are seen to care, they can build the ultimate motivated workforce.
But it’s a tough time to be a manager. UK workers are 20% less productive than the G7 average and 40% – yes, 40% – behind the US, and, as a manager you are expected to play an integral role in sorting this productivity issue, whilst connecting the company’s strategic goals with the tactical responsibilities of the employees.
At the same time high calibre middle management is in short supply and considered to be the most critical short-term talent need facing the corporate world. Managers then are very much under the spotlight and there’s no escaping. So how can Mindfulness help? And what #MindfulHacks i.e. simple, yet highly effective things, can you start doing today, that will make a real difference and help you to become more caring and the best you can be?
Mindfulness has actually been around for over 2500 years, but recently has become a very hot topic indeed; identified as a global trend for 2015 and a new corporate buzzword to sit alongside passion, purpose, pace and drive. It’s the new ‘secret weapon’ in the Board Room and a sure fire way to reduce absenteeism and turnover costs in the workplace. The world of work is abuzz with it and yet it’s so very simple. Requiring no kit, no equipment and even less time.
Mindfulness is not about zoning out, but zooming in. It’s just simply paying attention in the present moment by focussing on the breath, allowing thoughts to come and go without judgment, and, de-cluttering the brain. Resulting in greater clarity and better concentration, an inner sense of well being, increased resilience and greater creativity. Which in the workplace can mean better decision-making, increased efficiency, improved relationships and greater productivity.
It’s been described as having your ‘Brightness switch turned-up’ and it can be practiced for as little as three-to-five minutes a day for just eight weeks to start to notice a real difference. The research is unequivocal on the efficacy of Mindfulness and in five years time it will be conventional wisdom. Not only does Mindfulness strengthen the brain, provide greater clarity, increase mental stamina, and make us more caring and understanding, it is also a proven stress buster and with over 105 million working days a year lost in the UK through stress, perhaps becoming a #MindfulManger is a no-brainer.
So, what #MindfulHacks can you incorporate into your routine, as well as those for whom you’re responsible? Here are just a few.
- Make time for a daily #MindfulCoffee break: Start with a deep breath and take a few moments to notice where you are, then how your body feels and how you feel. Take note of the thoughts running through your mind, but let them pass without judgment, whilst holding your drink and feeling the sensation of the cup in your hand; and it’s OK if your mind wanders, just bring it back to the present moment with your breathing. Then take a sip, drink and enjoy.
- Have a pre-presentation or pre-meeting #MindfulStretch: In a quite place stand-up straight and open your chest. Lift your hands up in the air with palms facing forward and place your feet at hip-distance apart. Take some deep breaths and enjoy the open-body posture and chance to stretch-out fully.
- Practice #Mindfullistening: Pay full attention to what’s being said and listen for the ‘song beneath the words’, the little nuances and subtleties that can mask meaning.
- Use #MindfulPostIts: Site them around your desk to remind you to be Mindful and when you notice one pause and take a few deep breathes.
- Hold #MindfulMeetings: By encouraging participants to slow down and take a few Mindful breaths before they speak and not to react so quickly, everyone can improve both what they contribute and how you say it.
- Have a #MindfulLunch: Don’t eat at your desk and set an example by stopping for at least 20 minutes and not spending time doing other things at your screen. You can also model the way by turning everything off occasionally for at least 10 minutes and take the time to walk around, talk to everyone and really listen
- Start a workplace #MindfulnessGroup: Encourage staff to take a bottom-up approach and start their own group, by allowing time and actively supporting it.
For further #MindfulHacks checkout my current book, ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search of a Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon:
Chapter 5 in particular focuses on Mindfulness in the workplace.
I also have a series of podcasts available on iTunes:
Eps 7 & 8 look at #MindfulLeadership & #MindfulBusiness.
And if you’re on Twitter you can follow the continuing journey #Uncovering Mindfulness @TheMindfulBook @muddpartnership and @Paul_Mudd