How to become a more mindful and compassionate leaderJul 31, 2022
Leadership has never been more nuanced than it is at this moment. Flexible workplaces, technical innovation and an ongoing recovery from a global pandemic has seen to that. Yet through all the change, the solution remains constant. Organisations are built by people. People who need motivation, care and compassion. People who’s wellbeing should be as much of a business outcome as profits are.
Wellbeing has proven to grow businesses. Research has shown for every dollar spent on creating a mentally healthy workplace, you can get an average return on investment of $2.3 (PWC).
And Leaders - it starts with you.
You need to lead by example.
You need to grow the business.
You need to adapt to change.
You need to give yourself the same kindness, energy and compassion as the business.
If you are overwhelmed by the pressure for productivity and performance, it reduces your ability to notice others who are struggling. Your ability to respond in a compassionate way is damped by stress and fatigue. The problem is, if you’re overwhelmed, it’s likely your team is too. And it’s not just your business, Deloitte has found that 1 in 3 employees and executives are constantly struggling with fatigue and poor mental health.
Even in thriving businesses, it is important to remember there will always be change. The environment, the customer, and your employees are constantly evolving. A high performing team is given the tools to adapt and then grow with the business - enabled by their leader.
How do you do it?
You need mindfulness to understand there is a problem and then you need compassion to make the change.
OBSERVE: AWARENESS & CLARITY
Mindfulness is the foundation for you to become aware of your thoughts, feelings and habits. It’s how to find calm in stressful situations. It’s a practice that will change the way you observe, think and act about people, process and business.
ACT: EMPATHY & ACTION
Compassion gives decision makers the ability to act with clarity and care. Compassionate leaders see the employee and the person. Leading with compassion doesn’t mean hard decisions aren’t made. It means you are more equipped to make those decisions with a clear understanding of the person, problem and each perspective.
You can’t grow a mindful high performing team, without starting with you. You need to put into practice what you are asking of others. As a leader and as a person.
Small mindful acts you can add to your routine:
- Show yourself kindness, you need to invest in yourself first so you can invest in others. Mistakes are always going to be made, instead of being your harshest critic, acknowledge it and focus on what can be done better next time.
- Integrate a Meditation practice to your routine. Book 10 minutes in your calendar to bring space and calm into your mind.
- Step away from your screen and move (walk, stretch, run) to shift energy and your perspective.
Small compassionate acts to lead by example:
- Ask and Listen. You can’t be aware of everything that is happening, so ask your team and then listen to what they are aware of.
- Time your emails. Don’t send an email to your team late at night, even if it's the best time for you to get to it. Send it in the morning so your team doesn't feel any pressure to reply immediately.
- Communicate with care. When you make a decision, explain why. Moving from just telling to giving decisions context, gives your team clear, objective reasons why something is to be done.
- Be Vulnerable. If your team sees you are just like them, they will feel more comfortable sharing good and challenging information. Creating a more open and trusting culture.
- Be Inclusive. No business is the same, it’s made up of wonderfully different people and perspectives. Make sure your language, behaviour and the activities the team does are inclusive and change so it doesn’t favour just one group.
It’s hard work. However, through mindfulness and compassion you and your team will achieve more because you are creating a more resilient and productive workplace.
You don’t have to do it alone. We can help your leaders with the tools to lead with clarity and compassion.
Jay Pottenger is a Speaker, Accredited Mindfulness & Meditation coach and General Manager at EQ Minds. He works with high profile clients like IAG, Estee Lauder, BOQ and Class Limited to guide productivity and performance through mindfulness.
Get in touch with EQ Minds today.
1. Beyond Blue and PWC. Creating a mentally healthy workplace: Return on investment analysis. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government National Health Commission. 2014
2. Deloitte, 2022. The C-suite’s role in wellbeing. (https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/leadership/employee-wellness-in-the-corporate-workplace.html)