Mindful Leadership

Mindful Leadership

Do what is right

Sometimes this isn’t the easiest choice, but you have to keep coming back to your values. What is the right thing to do? #mindfulleadership

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traits of a mindful leader

5 traits of a mindful leader

To really embody mindful leadership it’s important to think about the traits that you value the most. The more we are able to embody those characteristics, the more it becomes a part of who we are – our human fabric. In my position as a mindful leadership trainer, I often get to talk to people who are at the very start of their leadership journey, who are still deciding what sort of leader they want to be. And I often get asked ‘What are the traits of a mindful leader?

Defining the characteristics of mindful leadership then can be quite difficult because it’s not a ‘one size fit’s all’. When I talk about mindful leadership, a lot of people go straight to picturing a CEO, or a corporate high flyer who is in charge of hundreds or thousands of people.

But for my mind, mindful leadership is more available than that, and it relates to everybody. It’s how we show up for people in any environment; whether that’s in the boardroom, at your kids sporting event or within your local community group . Mindful leadership is understanding that to be an effective leader of others, we first have to learn how to effectively lead ourselves.

Although mindful leadership has an element of action, as with any style of leadership, it is more a way of being. These 5 traits, which are common in most mindful leaders, may give you an insight into what that way of being looks like. 
traits of a mindful leader

5 Traits of a Mindful Leader

1. Awareness

If leadership starts with self, we first have to have an understanding of what’s happening within us. Dan Goleman, who literally wrote the book on Emotional Intelligence, says self awareness is the keystone of Emotional Intelligence. If we aren’t aware of whats happening with self, how can we effectively lead others. We would be more susceptible to mood swings, irrational thoughts, bias and poor decision making. Mindful leaders are self aware enough to realise how their thoughts and emotions affect their leadership. 

2. Calmness (particularly under pressure)

A mindful leader has a sense of calm that shines through, particularly during hard times or even during a crisis. This isn’t always a natural ability, but is often cultivated through practicing mindfulness over a number of months or years. A mindful leader will notice when things are starting to get heated and self regulate so they don’t get caught up in the stress of the situation. This skill is particularly useful when leading others, as the leader often sets the emotional tone for the rest of the team. 

3. Attention

Another sign of a mindful leader is someone who is willing to stop whatever they are doing, no matter how busy they are, and give you their full attention. I remember the first time I noticed this many years ago with one of the senior leaders I worked for. Despite the fact I knew she was extremely busy juggling many urgent tasks, she always stopped typing on her keyboard and physically turned towards me whenever I entered her office to ask my questions. If a leader chooses to multi-task their way through a conversation, what message is that sending their team? Unfortunately they run the risk of making their team feel unappreciated or even undervalued.

4. Authenticity 

This is a trait that has gotten a bad wrap over the last 5 years because some people feel it has been overused in the leadership space. But I think a mindful leader, who is conscious of their own strengths and weaknesses, still tries to be as authentic to themselves as possible.  If we strive to be too much like a mentor or someone we admire as a leader, it becomes tiring and difficult to maintain if it doesn’t match who we are as a person. The best leader you can be is the best version of yourself. We can absolutely look to others as an example, but we have to shape our own style to be true to who we are as a person. 

5. Gratitude 

A mindful leader doesn’t focus on the things they don’t have (resources, time, budget etc), they are grateful for the things they do have. It’s easy to get caught up in negativity where there is an environment of people who are constantly complaining about everything. A mindful leader is able to recognise that negative culture, but doesn’t feel the need to join in with the ‘me to’ attitude. Rising above it, and even trying to lift the gratitude of others, is another trait mindful leaders have.

As I started my list, my intention was to keep the list as short as possible, but for me mindful leadership is so much more than just 5 traits! What do you think, what other characteristics do you think are common in mindful leaders (comment below)?

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Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice using Gibbs Reflective Cycle

One of the best tools I have found over the years to develop my leadership capability is reflective practice. Reflective practice is looking back on an event or a period of time with the intention of learning from it so we can improve for next time.

I am a firm believer that leadership can’t necessarily be taught in a classroom, although there are certainly models, theories and discussions that can be shared, the real learning happens in our day to day lives. We learn leadership by our actions, internal feedback, external feedback and reflecting on past situations. It’s about contextualising the lessons for your leadership style and situation. This is where reflective practice can help.

There are basically two ways of doing reflective practice: formally and informally. The focus of this post is going to be on the more formal approach, in particular by following a step-by-step method called the Gibbs Reflective Cycle.

Gibbs Reflective Cycle

Figure 1: Gibbs G (1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford.

The idea is to use this model as a guide to write about each of the headings in a journal or notepad. Each heading is a prompt to write what you noticed about different aspects of the event in question.

Description: What actually happened? This is where you give a factual account of the information at hand, noticing any subjective stories that are coming through. Try and remain as objective as possible.

Feelings: What were you thinking and feeling, both before the event and during it. Often we don’t look back to how our mood may have impacted the way things played out. Maybe we had just had a fight with our spouse. Maybe we couldn’t find a carpark near the office so had to drive around in circles for half an hour. These things could have shaped your feelings during the event, even though we don’t think about them at the time. And also reflect on what were you thinking and feeling during the situation?

Evaluation: What was good about the situation, and what was bad about it? We tend to think just because overall the situation didn’t go as well as it could have that everything must have been bad – but that’s not always the case. For example, the fact you had the difficult conversation despite it’s outcome is a good thing because at least it’s now out in the open. 

Analysis: What sense can you make of the situation? Here you can be a little more subjective as you try and figure out what actually happened during the event you are reflecting on. Look for clues as to why the other person responded or behaved the way they did for example.

Conclusion: What else could you have done in the moment to change the course of the outcome? If the situation was negative, what steps could you have taken to bring things back on track? For example, if the other person escalated during a difficult conversation, did you escalate as well? Could you have been more mindful in this situation to affect a different outcome?

Action Plan: And if this situation arose again, what could you do differently next time to achieve a better result? What steps could you take before the situation to make sure things turn out better?

Reflective Practice

In the examples I gave above, the situations were mostly negative. However you can just as easily use the Gibbs Reflective Cycle for positive reflection. Reflect on a situation where things went really well and think about how you achieved it, and what you could do next time to get the same, or an even better results.

I write more about reflective practice and how to get the most out of your reflective practice in my new book The No-Bullsh*t Guide to Mindful Leadership. This book is full of simple yet effective techniques for being a more mindful leader.

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Rob Hills TEDx Canberra

TEDx Canberra Mindfulness Presentation

Recently I had the honour and pleasure of presenting a workshop to the TEDx Canberra Salon on Saturday 25 March 2017. The theme of the TEDx Canberra event was Empower and exploring what it means to be truly empowered? Where does ‘empower­ment’ come from? How do we empower ourselves? So, sticking with the theme, my workshop was titled ‘Empowering your life 1 mindful minute at a time’. 

Rob Hills TEDx Canberra

During the workshop we explored what it means to use mindfulness as a way of empowering people to be more present in their lives. This is not only for their mental wellbeing, but also to enhance their relationships with the people as well. And we got to do that in a really practical way, with lots of activities and suggestions for how people can start applying this in their own lives.

My passion is showing people how they can be more mindful and the many benefits it offers. I love the feedback I get when people tell me how mindfulness has helped them.

And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a lot of time to start being more mindful. I’m a strong believer that we need to make mindfulness fit our lives, and by starting small we can do just that. You don’t need to carve out massive chunks of your day to be more mindful. You can be mindful in a minute.

Have you checked out the new 1 Mindful Minute video series? Click here to watch. 

mindfulness discussion

Thankyou TEDx Canberra

It was such an awesome experience and I loved working with the amazing TEDx volunteers who ran the event. If you haven’t yet heard of the amazing work that TED and TEDx’s do around the world, I would encourage you to check them out!

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Best videos on mindful leadership

Best videos on Mindful Leadership

These are the best videos on Mindful Leadership I have found on the internet. They range in duration and the style of video but there is heaps of great information in these videos about Mindful Leadership.

So without further ado, here are my top 5 videos on Mindful Leadership.  

Best videos on mindful leadership

NUMBER 1

In this video author Michael Carroll talks to the employees of Google about ‘The Mindful Leader’. This video was shot in 2008 but is still very relevant today. Duration 56:55. 

 

NUMBER 2

Maybe there is a little bias seeping through here, but here is a great introduction into Mindful Leadership created by me. To see more of the 1 Mindful Minute video series click here. Duration 1 minute.

 

NUMBER 3

You can’t have a list of the best videos on Mindful Leadership and not include Janice Marturano. In this interview Janice talks about the aspirational definition of a mindful leader. She also explains how a mindful leader embodies focus, clarity, creativity and compassion. Duration 4:27.

NUMBER 4

The quality of this video isn’t great, but if you can’t get passed the smaller screen and sometimes unhelpful banter of the interviewers then you will find some great stuff about Mindful Leadership in this one. This is Bill George on CNBC discussing mindful leadership. Duration 7:26. 

NUMBER 5

Rounding out my top 5 is one of my personal favourite videos which I have watched on countless occasions. It doesn’t fit neatly in the best videos on  Mindful Leadership category but is too good to go past. In this video the monk explains how to train the monkey mind. Brilliant in it’s simplicity it also removes some of the ‘rules’ around mindfulness and meditation. Funny too! Duration 1:48. 

What are your best videos on Mindful Leadership?

What are your nominations for best videos on Mindful Leadership? Please leave a comment below and let me know if I’ve missed one. You never know, it could lead to a rethink of my top 5! 

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Quote: Want less stress…

Try Mindfulness

Want less stress in your life? Too many different thoughts going around in your head? You should try being more mindful! Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing. 

1 Mindful Minute

For more great tips and techniques click here to view my free 1 Mindful Minute video series. In these short 1 minute videos I give you practical strategies you can use to incorporate 1 Mindful Minute into your daily activities. You can do these activities at home, at work, in the car …. You can basically do them anywhere!

Remember, it only takes a minute to be mindful!

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1 Mindful Minute Video

Video: 1 Mindful Minute Series – STOP

When people ask me how to be more mindful I tell them they need to STOP. Using a short acronym like S.T.O.P. makes it easier for people to remember, so it’s really effective when you want to apply it to everyday situations.

S stands for Stop – When you become aware that you are feeling stressed or anxious say STOP either out loud or to yourself. 

T stands for Take a few slow mindful breaths – Not trying to change the breath, just noticing the breath and focusing all of your attention there.

O stands for Observe – Just observe your present experience including your thoughts, feelings and emotions – but do it without judgement.

P stands for Proceed – Now that you are feeling more calm, proceed with what you were doing, but do it more mindfully.

Just noticing that you are feeling stressed or anxious is the first step in becoming more mindful. This technique only takes a minute – so why don’t you STOP right now and give it a try!

1 Mindful Minute

For more great tips and techniques click here to view my free 1 Mindful Minute video series. In these short 1 minute videos I give you practical strategies you can use to incorporate 1 Mindful Minute into your daily activities. You can do these activities at home, at work, in the car …. You can basically do them anywhere!

Remember, it only takes a minute to be mindful!

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Rob hills mindful leadership

Quote: If you are tired learn to rest…..

Rob hills mindful leadership
If you are tired learn to rest, not quit! Be mindful of your thoughts because in a low mood they can betray you. Don’t give up, you got this! #mindfulness

1 MINDFUL MINUTE

For more great tips and techniques click here to view my free 1 Mindful Minute video series. In these short 1 minute videos I give you practical strategies you can use to incorporate 1 Mindful Minute into your daily activities. You can do these activities at home, at work, in the car …. You can basically do them anywhere!

Remember, it only takes a minute to be mindful!

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