If you were asked to describe an ideal candidate for a leadership position within a major company, what characteristics would you name? Maybe you envision a results-driven extrovert with a larger-than-life presence. Perhaps the image in your mind is a decisive character with an aggressive approach to management. Though most of us have preconceived notions of what leadership looks like, the reality is more nuanced than ever. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, new skills are necessary to steer the ship of any business. Much of modern leadership hinges on the capacity for connection. This is where mindfulness comes in. As we cultivate intentional awareness of our lives, we learn to connect to the present moment. We can let go of extraneous details, giving our full attention to what is going on around us and what is going on within us. This enables us to assess any situation and make effective decisions from a calm and rational perspective. If you’re looking to upgrade your career and your earning potential by developing critical leadership skills, mindfulness can help. A sense of presence and awareness can help you bring increased value to your organization in a number of ways; we’ve compiled a few of our favorites below! Improve your time management Each of us has experienced a day like this: you arrive at work to find you have a million things to do and no idea where to start. You spend most of the day floating between tasks, doing a little here and a little there. At the end of the day, you find that you stayed busy but accomplished little. At its core, mindfulness is the practice of making conscious choices about where your focus goes. As you learn to manage your attention, your time management issues will cease to exist. Lack of time within the workplace often comes from the inability to remain focused on priority tasks. Cultivating awareness of the present moment allows you to consciously direct your attention and make the most of your day. Stay calm under pressure A critical component of leadership is the ability to deal with stressful situations. It’s imperative to have skills for managing anxiety, whether you’re calming a distressed employee or charting a new course after budget cuts. Unmanaged stress wreaks havoc on the brain, limiting your ability to think quickly and act precisely. While the brain in its healthiest state is capable of thinking flexibly and problem-solving with ease, stress hormones disrupt its functioning. As you learn to stimulate your body’s relaxation response, you can access a peaceful mind under immense pressure. This sense of peace will allow you to assess any situation, see all the available options, and choose an appropriate course of action. Sharpen your creativity A creative leader is an effective leader. While we rarely think of creativity as a foundation for professional advancement, the ability to think outside the box is an essential quality in a leader. In business, innovation requires the creative synthesis of new ideas. When you excel in creative thinking as a leader, you see more possibilities in any situation. You are able to look beyond the obvious options and create new solutions. This opens the door for growth and progress, allowing you and your organization to operate at increasingly higher levels. Cultivating a mindfulness practice Mindfulness is accessible to all of us, and the benefits are endless. To get started, consider two possible options for incorporating awareness today.
- Try a seated practice. Set aside a short amount of time to sit quietly. For beginners, five minutes is a great place to start. During that time, pay attention to your body and your surroundings. Notice what is actually happening in the moment. Pay attention to the sensations in your body as you sit, to the speed and depth of your breath, to the fluctuations of your thoughts. You don’t need to control or manage any of these things; simply pay attention to them and let them be.
- Turn a daily activity into an exercise in awareness. Focus on the moment as you wash dishes, fold laundry, or enjoy dinner. A great way to approach this practice is through engaging your senses; pay close attention to what you’re touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. Come into the present moment and allow yourself to fully experience it.