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Are you a mindless leader or a mindful leader?

 

A drop of water frozen by flash

Image via Wikipedia

 

Leaders are responsible for making quick  yet “correct” decisions about critical issues and executing those decisions.

It is critical for leaders to be non-judgmental or neutral in evaluating, deciding and taking action.  “Judgment” is often paired with a negative emotion (which our brain interprets as “pain”), which then closes doors to insight, awareness, empathy and solutions.

When we are mindful, or aware without judgment, we have a greater opportunity to evaluate our thoughts, feelings and beliefs without judgment. Being able to label or re-frame these “mindless” assertions, also allows us the opportunity to neutralize the negative charge that comes with the judgment associated with our reactions, painful feelings and “shoulds.”

At that point of awareness and reframing, we then have a choice, and thus an opportunity to execute that choice, try it out and see what happens, instead of being held hostage by the past. Labeling events and feelings, as well as an increased awareness at the levels of sensing, observation and knowing integrates and balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain (Badenoch, 2000).

Leaders can develop the skills to be intentionally mindful, sustainable leaders by developing the muscle of mindfulness in their brain.  As a leadership coach who is an expert in the combination of relationships, communication and neuroscience, I have seen leaders whose peers and subordinates describe as “mindless” and “socially inept” be able to ramp up and learn the skills pretty quickly, and see a noticeable difference in their effectiveness at work, but also significantly lowering their stress level in the process.