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Do You Want to Be a More Mindful Leader? Put Mindfulness to the Test


November 16th, 2017

- Updated on

November 17, 2017 - 3:42pm

Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Build Stronger Relationships: Get Better Results with a Few Simple Steps

Recently we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Joshua Ehrlich, a leading authority on succeeding in demanding environments. He joined us at HR Studio Podcast and you can catch the episode here: How to Influence and Inspire others with Mindful Leadership.
In an enlightening conversation with AJO Executive Coach and Senior Consultant, Linda Hlavac, Josh highlighted mindfulness techniques for increasing performance and thriving in a fast-paced workplace. We pick up the topic and share more insights from Josh's research, writing and teachings. 

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is present, open and engaged attention. It is learning to pay attention to your complete experience and coming back to the present every time your attention wanders. According to Dr. Ehrlich,
“When you pay attention, you build self-awareness which is the heart of leadership.”
“this allows you to show up completely, connect with others and build lasting relationships. Then once connected, your capacity to lead and inspire others grows.” 
His research found six core benefits of mindfulness. 
  • Spirit – Being clear on your values and purpose gives you a compass for decisions and actions 
  • Emotion – Staying with your feelings allows you to avoid reacting 
  • Mind – Quieting your mind gives you a chance to get clear and make sound decisions 
  • Body – Attending to your body allows you to relax and take care of yourself 
  • Connecting – Tuning in to relationships means you listen well and build trust 
  • Vision – Looking at what is possible enables you to lead with passion

Do You Want to Be a More Mindful Leader? Put Mindfulness to the Test

The good news, anyone can learn mindfulness. All these desirable benefits are available to each of us by learning and applying a few simple mindfulness practices. The trick is that once you learn them, you must remember to use them regularly for the practice to take hold and make a difference in day-to-day experience.  Why not try these mindfulness techniques for a week or more? Test and see how a few of his simple strategies can work for you.
leader and employee in conversation

Start Here:

  1. Schedule 45-minute meetings rather than back to back 60-minute meetings. This meeting management technique gives time for you to attend to your physical and work-related needs between meetings and to clear your head before tackling another subject at the next meeting. A clearer head, no distractions mean better, more productive meetings. 
  2. Turn off your phone, close your laptop and turn away from your screen during conversations. Freedom from electronic distractions enables you to engage more fully by listening well and attending to the other person or people in the room or on the conference call. Fully listening builds trust and enhances relationships while allowing you to make better, more informed decisions. 
  3. Stop multitasking. Focus on doing one thing at a time and doing it well. Research has shown that we are terrible multi-taskers, despite what we may think. When multi-tasking, the project at hand takes 40% longer and you make twice as many errors.  Think of the benefits to your bottom line if you save that much time, and are that much more effective in what you accomplish.  Repeat after me, “One thing at a time, one thing at a time...”
  4. Focus on your breath. Mindfulness is not meditation, although meditation is a great way to practice being mindful. To be mindful, simply focus. Stop and focus on your breathing for a minute or two, noticing if you are breathing deeply or in shallow, tight gulps. You don’t have to work to change how you are breathing, simply focusing on it will automatically reset your breathing and reduce tension. 
  5. Take a timeout. Clearing your head before each discussion or decision, even if you simply sit quietly before a meeting starts, or focus on each step as you walk from meeting to meeting will help you attend more freely to what is coming next.  

Healthy You, Healthy Leader, Healthy Organization

Practicing mindfulness puts you in the company of firms such as Google, BlackRock, Aetna, McKinsey, and Johnson & Johnson who are teaching mindfulness as a highly effective productivity and leadership tool. 
To learn more about how you can be more mindful in your daily environment, review the mindfulness tips and strategies contained in the articles and videos referenced in this post (see links below). Applying them in your day-to-day work life will reduce your stress and up your productivity quotient while enhancing your ability to engage openly with others free from distractions and competing demands.
As Joshua Ehrlich will tell you,
“At the heart of a healthy, thriving company are healthy leaders. Mindfulness can get you there."

Recommended Reading & References

Dr. Joshua Ehrlich
Dr. Josh Ehrlich is a researcher, founder of the Global Leadership Council, a coach for senior executives and leaders across the globe, and author of the book, Mindshifting: Focus for  Performance. His techniques are being adopted by organizations worldwide.