Spiritual Development for Leaders: Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness as a leader is of utmost importance to remain connected to the now. It is achieved by becoming fully aware of your current thoughts, always. For leaders to connect fully with others, they must be fully focused on that person, not engaged with inner dialogue. Others sense this. To provide emotional safety for others to change requires maintaining a solid emotional state as a leader.
When a friend of mine met Bill Clinton at a very large event with thousands of people trying to push in to see or speak to him, she was struck for many years after the event of how she felt like she was the only person in the room. She described his attention to her as ‘riveting’ and though the content of what was spoken has faded, the impression has been long lasting. She felt connected to him on personal level, this increased her belief in him as a leader, and she became totally committed to his vision from that moment in a much greater way.
A leader I once worked with spent time in the past harbouring bitterness about things that did not go as desired and he would voice unwarranted critical opinions. Though he knew he was transparent, he was not fully aware of what people saw in him, it was not pretty.
To grow as a leader he had to begin noticing when his thoughts took him away from the current situation and when his emotions were, being played out as past habits rather than appropriate present responses. He practiced methods of letting go of repetitive thoughts from the past and bringing himself back to the present. He became aware of how much he had missed in each present moment and how much he had perceived incorrectly due to his mind being elsewhere.
Those around him stopped fearing his anger and became calmer in his presence once they realized he was listening through the ears of today and not the memories of yesteryear. Leaders of transformational change must master the practice of mindfulness.