Be A More Conscious Leader
Are you a time-poor leader facing an onslaught of targets, projects and challenges? Take a minute to find out how conscious leadership can help you make better decisions and reduce job-related stress to improve your leadership skills.
What is conscious leadership?
We rely on leaders to show the way, define a course of action and influence behaviour. What makes a conscious leader is self-awareness, or being mindful. Author of The Mindful Leader, Michael Bunting, defines this as “being fully present in the moment and thinking only of the task at hand.”
Meditation is a great way to bring about awareness. Successful leaders such as Steve Jobs and Mark Benioff, are well known meditators. Other mindful techniques include breathing exercises, listening to music or yoga. The key is to eliminate crowded thoughts and to be in tune with the present.
"Being a conscious leader can help you remain focused, make better decisions and improve your mental health"
Why should I do it?
Changing lanes without checking your blind spot is risky, it’s the same with leadership. However, a study of 80,000 leaders showed that while 77% thought they did well in engaging employees and supporting productivity, 82% of their employees disagreed. That means overwhelmed leaders are manoeuvring without a full view of the situation.
So, not being fully present results in autopilot-like behaviour that can seriously compromise decision-making. It limits your perspective, causes you to resort to shortcuts, and leads you to make emotion-based decisions.
On the other hand, neuroscience confirms the benefits of mindful practices. Research suggests these activities reduce stress, pain and even improves sleeping patterns while also rebuilding the brain’s grey matter. With job stress-related mental disorders costing Australian businesses $3.4 billion in lost productivity, it’s worth considering mindful practices for leaders and their teams.
In fact, companies like Google, NAB and IBM recognise the importance of conscious leadership. IBM ran a mindfulness program for their leaders which resulted in a healthier, more relaxed management team who got along so much better with co-workers. Mindfulness played a huge part in creating better leaders for IBM.
How do I do it?
It doesn’t have to be taxing. While the main aim is to become self-aware, you also want to be relaxed. Don’t overthink and stress, just find time to stop. Studies have shown the positive effects of slow, controlled breaths on hyperactivity in the brain. So, your mindfulness routine could be as simple as taking deep breaths and refocusing.
It doesn’t need to be weird. If meditation sounds a bit eccentric, it doesn’t need to be. The Dalai Lama himself recommends ‘analytical meditation’. Instead of focusing on an object, isolate a problem on your mind and use logic and critical thinking to come up with a solution.
Of course, you may decide to do more to become a truly conscious leader. Whatever activities you decide works best for you, may it help you remain focused, make better decisions and improve your mental health. So, take a short break from your many demands, breathe and let self-awareness make you a better leader.