Mindful Leaders or mindfulness in leadership is seen as the current leadership behaviour most in demand.
‘Some of the recent difficulties of Hewlett-Packard, British Petroleum, CEOs of failed Wall Street firms, and dozens of leaders who failed in the post-Enron era are examples of this.(lack of mindfulness)’*
Q: What is mindful leadership, and what are its benefits?
A: Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one’s reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.*
Mindfulness isn’t new, many cultures have used it for hundreds of years and even in western businesses it has been celebrated. Daniel Goleman wrote about it in 1990 although he called it Emotional Intelligence and many now see this as more important in a leader than IQ.
Now cast you mind back to your working day; did you or people around you?
- check emails when talking to someone on the phone
- constantly think about all the work you had to get through when you were at a meeting
- do work when on a conference call
- Flick between tasks due to interruptions
- eat lunch,work, text, check social media
- MY FAVOURITE sit in a course or meeting glued to your blackberry only engaging when it suited you
This is not an exhaustive list of multitasking, please add your own examples
What’s more is that Clifford Nass, a researcher at Stanford assumed that those who multitask heavily will nonetheless develop some other outstanding skills. He thought that they will be amazing at 1. filtering information, 2. being very fast at switching between the tasks and 3. keeping a high working memory.
He found that none of these 3 points are true:
We were absolutely shocked. We all lost our bets. It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking.
People who multitask a lot are in fact a lot worse at filtering irrelevant information and also perform significantly worse at switching between task, compared to singletaskers.
Now most studies all point towards the fact that multitasking is very bad for us. We get less productive and skills like filtering out irrelevant information decline.
So before you book your meditation classes (I thoroughly recommend meditation but that’s another post). its back to basics. Plan our tasks. Be present. Complete one thing at a time and do it well. Pay attention to the people around us that we are interacting with…really listen and observe before taking action or speaking.
The number 1 complaint I have on Change courses is that people don’t feel they are being listened to. Such a simple habit / behaviour to help people through change.
If you would like to know more about mindfulness you could start here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wherever-You-There-Are-Mindfulness/dp/0749925485
* extract from HBR
Let me know your thoughts in the comments box
A great TED video about monotasking is below.