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Culture

Mindful Leadership

In my career over the last twenty years, I’ve worked for various companies. Whether I was answering calls in a call centre, or working with the C-Suite, one guiding principle has remained close to my heart. Authentically, don’t be a dick.

What does that even mean?

Okay, let’s call “don’t be a dick” our mission statement. It’s much deeper than that.

I actually mean, being mindful. Understanding that we all directly, or indirectly, influence the people around us. Mindfulness to me is wanting to have a positive impact on your environment and the people you interact with. I believe that our intention should be to help the people around you. We should considering the words we’re using, and how we act. Asking ourselves, “How might what I say affect that person?” and “Is what I’m doing, helping that person to achieve their goals?” If that is not the case, how can I achieve that?

Assuming positive intent, and having positive intentions is where I aspire for us all to get to.

“This sounds like a neo-liberal nightmare”

I’m not saying that you can never give hard and/or difficult feedback. Being mindful and giving difficult feedback are not mutually exclusive. Remember, we give difficult feedback to help people improve! If your feedback doesn’t do that – then what is the point in giving it?

Feedback should not be given in the heat of the moment, or off the back of an emotional response to an event. You’ll miss the mark. Instead, give feedback after things have calmed down, and you’ve had a chance to digest events. A good method for providing feedback that I’ve mentioned previously is the Event, Effect and Change method.

  • Event – What happened? Be as specific as you can.
  • Effect – What effect did the event have on the business, the customer, the team, etc
  • Change – How that event should be handled the next time it occurs. 

The more that this happens – the more that this type of feedback becomes embedded in your culture, and the easier it becomes to give (and receive). 

“What are the benefits?”

There are numerous benefits to being mindful in the way we manage the people around us. Being mindful has many advantages to acting oppositely. These advantages lead to knock-on positives for your business. Being mindful…

  • Supports employee growth
  • Encourages openness
  • Enhances culture

In my experience, people are more comfortable with talking about their mistakes and failures when fear is eradicated from your culture. This allows your business to fail faster, learning from mistakes along the way. 

Employees who are open to providing and receiving feedback are happier. They know exactly where they stand in the grand scheme of things and know that if there is something that needs to be discussed – it’ll happen with transparency and honesty. 

Important: Don’t mistake kindness for weakness

As I mentioned earlier, being kind and remaining mindful, does not mean that difficult conversations can’t happen. Quite the opposite. If a certain course of action would be deemed the best for all parties, that must and will happen.

What I am saying is, that the process will be handled with the utmost level of sensitivity and honesty with that person. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, this might sound like insurmountable, or unrealistic – but psychological safety has been a key component of the culture in all of the successful organisations that I have worked in. They’ve also been the best places I’ve worked at.

You can help facilitate that success by being taking responsibility for your actions and remaining mindful in how you act. You’ll feel better for it – I promise.

Further reading