Updated: May 11, 2022
Seven Steps to Mindful Leadership
By Fleet Maull, PhD, CMT-P
No matter what type of leadership role you are in, you need to be able to connect with others while also staying connected with yourself, so that you can be a driving force for positivity.
Mindful leadership is an approach and set of skills and practices that can be developed and mastered in order to effectively lead, manage, and influence in today’s world, ensuring that you optimize your abilities as a leader within a business, a non-profit organization, your community, or even within your family.
The following Seven Steps to Mindful Leadership describe an integral approach to mastering mindful leadership, so that you can be a positive influence and source of inspiration in any leadership role.
1. Practice Mindfulness & Cultivate Presence
The first step in mindful leadership is to become present within ourselves in service of being present for and with others. A formal mindfulness of breathing meditation practice that emphasizes embodiment and interoceptive awareness is a great way to enhance your capacity for presence.
Taking year seat on a cushion or chair, find a posture that for you feels naturally uplifted, dignified, stable and relaxed. Bringing your attention to your body and breathing will help you establish your physical presences as an anchor for present moment mindfulness. Simply welcoming whatever arises from the five senses and your thinking mind, moment to moment, while returning again and again to the body/breath as your anchor, will help you develop self-acceptance and deepen your presence. Paying particular attention to the landscape of internal physical sensation throughout the body with interoceptive awareness will further deepen your presence.
Presence communicates caring, respect, and availability to others, while also providing us with the internal and external data we need to skilfully lead others.
2. Build Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman’s model of Emotional Intelligence (EI) encompasses four quadrants: Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, providing a very helpful framework or map for our journey toward mastery in mindful leadership. Emotional awareness is key to increasing our self-understanding and capacity for self-regulation, allowing us to make good decisions even when experiencing strong emotional reactions. It is very helpful to understand that emotions, rather than being caused by others or external events, arise from our perception of met or unmet needs (connection, autonomy, respect, fairness, status, safety, etc.) and that our perceptions are based on the meaning we add to experiences and assumptions we make about others’ intentions.
By learning to accurately assess and understand your own and others’ emotions, you are able to empathically connect with others and support them effectively. This leads to increased levels of trust, understanding, and improved communication--all critical factors for effective leadership, allowing you to openly exchange and discuss ideas and both provide and receive feedback from others in a safe, judgement-free environment.