Great business is all in your mind
While the concept of ‘mindfulness’ may seem more suited to the beach than the boardroom, it is now recognised as a valuable leadership skill that can improve company culture, collaboration and work-life balance. Workplace design company Evoke Projects examines the benefits of mindful leadership and ways you can be a more mindful leader.
What is mindful leadership?
To be mindful is to have non-judgemental thoughts and feelings focused on the present moment. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and improves mental health and well-being. In recent years, mindfulness has made its way into business and leadership programs.
Martin Zalewski, Expert Contributor & Managing Director, Europe Business Leader at Rightpoint, writes about the 6 Principles of Mindfulness:1
- Authenticity – live true to yourself
- Passion – stay true to your passions and your business mission
- Courage – have the courage to act on what is right
- Gratitude – be thankful and say thank you
- Collaboration – support collaboration at a human level and via technology
- Sense of purpose – and understand the why behind the what
The benefits of mindful leadership
Mindful leaders focus on people and what is happening today, rather than a distant future goal. This allows them to develop better relationships with their employees and drive a culture of honesty and openness. Workplace health and well-being is improved as people feel valued and listened to. Collaboration and creativity are enhanced when staff feel safe to speak openly and to experiment.
Mindful leadership encourages individuals to develop their own skills of mindfulness which helps them both inside and outside of work.
Bringing mindfulness into the workplace improves work-life balance. Work is not seen as ‘the place where I’m stressed until I can go home to relax’. Work is more enjoyable, and employees are more engaged. Zalewski’s article quotes research showing some tangible benefits of happier workers:
- Highly engaged employees result in greater revenue of about 200 percent more than organisations with employees engaged at average levels, according to CultureIQ.2
- As reported by Forbes, companies with a positive employee experience typically see 147 percent higher earnings per share and an 80 percent reduction in work-related stress.3
- Productivity improves by 20 to 25 percent in organisations with connected employees, per the McKinsey Institute.4
6 ways to be a more mindful leader
- Train the brain. Mindfulness is a skill, and it does not happen overnight. Facilitate training and opportunities for the brain to be more present in the moment, both for yourself and others. Arrange workshops, meditation or yoga sessions, and create quiet zones in the workplace fit-out.
- Generate a trusting company culture by encouraging honest feedback without consequence. Be constructive in criticism and non-judgemental. Encourage others to be honest. Politeness can hinder progress if people worry that criticism will damage relationships. It can lead to people working on projects that lack potential. If mistakes are made, find a positive lesson that can be learned and show gratitude for the opportunity to improve processes.
- Be authentic and truly present with your employees in meetings and one-on-one sessions. Be aware of the dynamics in each team rather than focused on business objectives and the future. If people feel listened to, they will feel more motivated and engaged with their work. This leads to better performance, higher productivity and creativity.
- Be empathetic and interested in the individuals in your workforce – know their names and interests and take the time to have conversations about non-work topics.
- Look for workplace solutions that improve work-life balance. Give employees the right to switch off outside of working hours. Consider having one day a week where everyone is focused on being present with minimal distractions.
- Question goals and meetings. What is your mission and true purpose? Why are the goals important? Will meetings help you get there?
Workplace designs that promote mindfulness
As mentioned above, quiet zones within the workplace fit-out provide an opportunity for mindfulness. The WELL Building StandardTM has guidance for creating office fit-outs that help the mind. For a space that is designated exclusively for contemplation, relaxation and restoration, WELL recommends that the office design considers:
- Accessible design
- Lighting (e.g., dimmable light levels)
- Intrusive noise and sound masking (e.g., water feature, natural sounds)
- Thermal comfort
- Seating arrangements that accommodate a range of user preferences and activities (e.g., movable lightweight chairs, cushions, mats)
- Nature incorporation
- Calming colours, textures and forms
- Visual privacy
Please visit the WELL website for more information.
For workplace design ideas that encourage and support mindfulness, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.