Mindful Leadership

By Chris Ihrig

Mindfulness is a practice where you are encouraged to stay non-judgmental in the current moment while being aware of your thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

The problem with mindful leadership is that leading requires us to make judgments all day long.

We can’t withhold judgment when we observe an employee who arrives at work intoxicated. We must decide what to do with the employee immediately as well as what the long-term repercussions will be.

To make a hiring decision, we must judge which applicant we feel will do the best job. Before launching a marketing campaign, we have to judge which campaign is most likely to achieve our goals.

How can a leader be both mindful and effective in their role? Mindfulness and leadership connect in many ways. Today, I want to share my thoughts about the connection between being nonjudgmental and open mindedness.

Open Mindedness

Having an open mind and being nonjudgmental are related concepts. As a leader, withholding judgement until I have all the information is a winning strategy.

If an employee complains about another employee, being mindful that the employee is giving me their side of the story and that the other side may sound like a completely unrelated event will help me resolve the situation. If I judge the situation as soon as the first employee complains it can bias my perspective when I speak to the other employee. Withholding judgement leaves room for the truth to emerge.

Being nonjudgmental also means that I don’t accept my first thoughts about why something wasn’t done as facts. It means I investigate until I have evidence, not just a back story my subconscious mind  created to make sense of my experience. Only then am I prepared to take corrective action.

Being open minded when praising is also important. Have you ever had a boss who praised someone else for your contribution? Our mind can get stuck in a rut. If we have a team member who frequently contributes great ideas, we may think they suggested the latest innovation, but the truth is we’re being lazy thinkers. The new idea came from the new team member who is now demotivated because we praised someone else for their idea.

To me, mindful leadership means taking more time before making required judgments or decisions. I’m still contemplating other ways mindfulness and leadership conflict and intertwine. I’ll have more on that later.