Managers who practice mindful leadership are more present, give others space, seek to understand others’ perspectives and emotional states, and act for the common good, according to a new study in the journal Management Learning.
The data for analysis were collected from 62 leaders who participated in an 8-week-long mindfulness training program.
The paper’s findings are particularly useful for HR managers and development professionals in evaluating and selecting leader development interventions.
At work, mindfulness, ’present-moment awareness’, benefits not only the individual but the whole work community, said the study’s author Laura Urrila.
When an individual participates in mindfulness training, the implications spill over to the wider work community.
Mindfulness at work
In recent years, mindfulness has become popular in working life, especially among leaders and leadership development professionals.
Leadership —leading people— is all about motivating others and taking an interest in the needs of others.
Urrila sought to investigate if mindfulness could help leaders tap into their orientation to others and support leaders in their role of leading others.
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The interviewees described their desire to ensure their team members’ well-being and development.
At the same time, they found the leadership work to be challenging in many ways; Often, supervisors are burdened by heavy workloads, difficult workplace relationships, and problems with the functioning of the team.
While there seems to be a will, the workable strategies and tools to engage in good leadership may be missing, Urrila says.
Leaders are quite interested in mindfulness
The participants found simple mindfulness practices and learnings, such as conscious breathing, calming visualization, and a compassionate attitude, helpful in their daily work which involved constant interaction with team members.
It is interesting, Urrila points out, that many leaders and supervisors immediately wanted to share their learning and introduce mindfulness practices to their team members both in one-on-one and team meetings, even though they had no prior experience with the topic or how it could be applied in daily leadership work.
Mindful leadership is good leadership: awareness is a skill that can be practiced
Urrila’s research confirms that the ability to be present and aware is a part of good leadership and that it can be practiced.
Leadership development is not easy because it happens over time as part of adult maturation and involves the willingness to engage in self-reflection.
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Developing oneself first may be required, as “you cannot give from an empty cup”.
Urrila’s research uncovers that mindfulness practice develops a leader’s self-awareness and supports the ability to take care of, and develop, oneself.
According to Urrila, a positive personal experience of mindfulness training and practice is the key driver that motivates leaders to apply mindfulness in their work.
The research highlights the perspective that the most effective form of leadership development is a combination of a formal program and continuous self-development.
Thanks for reading!
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