By Bree Jamieson-Holloway
Close your eyes. Take a moment to feel the ground beneath your shoes. Maybe wiggle your toes, slowly lift your heels up and down, then relax.
Now, pay attention to the feeling of the floor once more. Notice any tension you might be experiencing any thoughts or feelings that enter your mind.
Now open your eyes.
What you’ve just experienced is a simple mindfulness exercise that took less than 1 minute of your time.
This simple act, of taking time be aware of your external environment and internal feelings, with practice can, become a skill that will open your mind to leadership styles you might never thought possible.
At any given time, mindfulness allows us to be aware of what we are doing and thinking, and quiet the stressors and angst of all things going on around us.
It’s a simple concept really. But, the nature of our lives often makes mindful awareness challenging to achieve, especially in leadership positions where we find ourselves being pulled in a million different directions at once.
To me there are four important characteristics of a mindful leader. Your ability to lean into and enhance these skills can have a huge impact on your ability to cultivate trust, build loyalty and empower your employees to reach their full potential.
Resilience: Mindfulness plays an important role in your ability to stand up to the challenges you will inevitably face as a leader, and on your ability to call on the strength you need when you need to make tough decisions.
Speaking from my own experience as an entrepreneur, co-founder of a start-up, not to mention wife, friend, daughter and mother, there are many moments in my week that really test my ability to face adversity.
It is in these moments that my resilience is truly tested – do I fight, or do I flee?
I’ve learned to pay attention to these moments because they have made me a more mindful leader. Your ability to understand your feelings and acknowledge them will give you fuel to find composure in the most stressful times.
And when your ability to call on this strength is there for all to see, it proves to your team that, they too, have the ability to call on resilience when they need it most.
Conscience thinking: Exceptional leaders don’t walk around with their heads in the clouds thinking only of their to do list. They are thinking about their entire environment. They are noticing their team, they are picking up on body language, tension, joy, etc.
Conscience leaders are more self-aware and tend to be more empathetic, curious, and interested in the people, skills and value that others bring to the table.
When you are aware of your people’s emotions, needs, concerns you are better able to connect with them in a way that makes them feel respected and valued. Even if you didn’t agree with their latest business pitch or you had to ask them to re-write a proposal.
Conscience thinking allows you to engage with your team in professional and respectful way.
Transparency: There is this unfortunate, but I daresay, prevailing concept that if leaders share too much – especially the not so good news – that they are somehow showing weakness. I’ve experienced this in my own career, and while there is a fine line between transparency and oversharing, the fact is there are real benefits to letting people in on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be transparent, but in the face of adversity, transparency is so important to establishing trust with your team. In my experience, there is no better way to show your employees and colleagues that you value them than by letting them into your circle of trust.
For example, start-up life is full of ups and downs. My co-founder and I understood this and knew the only way we could build trust with our small but mighty team, was to be completely transparent out of the gate and acknowledge to our prospects that they would be agreeing to a certain level of uncertainty. We knew we must be honest that there was no guarantee, that mistakes would be made, but that we would forthcoming with them at every step of the way.
It’s not fair to your employees to paint a false picture of reality. Be honest, you might just be pleasantly surprised how quickly you are able to cultivate loyalty in doing so.
Authenticity: This is more than a buzz word.
We are increasingly seeing proof that people are attracted to other people who are being themselves; who are truth tellers. People are tired of the pretty box with the nice ribbon that opens to a world of chaos. People want to know what they are getting into upfront, so they can make an informed decision. That includes you, and who you are as a leader.
It will not serve you well to pretend to be someone else. People can smell a fake a mile away and it immediately erodes trust. It’s okay for your team to see you asking questions. It’s okay for your team to see you weighing the merits of a choice before you make a decision or take action.
To me, authentic leadership is rooted in your personal moral standards of integrity, professionalism and respect. It’s critically important to your ability to establish honest relationships, based on mutual trust and respect, and to develop a culture that embraces collaboration.
Authenticity is perhaps the most important pillar of mindful leadership because it taps into your power to be resilient, conscience and transparent always.
Mindful leadership, at its core, is all about people. And there is nothing that is worth more than your people.
Bree Jamieson-Holloway is the CEO of Nurtured Life Company. She is a lawyer by trade, an Executive and Life Coach, a wife and mother to two beautiful daughters. Bree is the powerhouse captain that steers the Nurtured Life team. Her passion for helping others and her deep spiritual connection is what drove the idea of Nurtured Life to fruition.