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Mindful leaders

Jan 21st

Recently on TV a small feature caught my attention. It reported a rather surprising innovation being trialled in a secondary school in Kent which is using lessons on building ‘mindfulness’ to help the pupils be more aware of themselves and what is going on around them.  The pupils themselves are already saying that it is helping them to focus more both in class and in their school work and achieve better results. The classes are simply exercises in ‘mindful meditation’ 

Mindfulness meditation is a Buddhist idea also known as ‘insight’ because the intention is to gain insight into the true nature of reality.  While concentration involves focusing our attention on a single object, in mindfulness, every aspect of experience is welcomed and appreciated.

This strikes me as something that would be a useful technique for busy leaders who are aware that they and their organisations have become ‘addicted to action’ (a phrase used by a client recently to describe their prevailing culture). To help break the habit, leaders need to learn how to become more mindful; in our risk-aware yet very complex worlds, a mindful leader is someone who will intuit sooner what is going on, ask the right questions and ensure that the important things are being prioritised.

To be mindful leaders, we have to take on the role of an impartial observer of everything that passes before our attention.  Our intention is not to be focused, but rather to be mindful, that is, to be fully aware and awake of what is going on in the present moment.  It is being used as a key concept in leading important issues like safety to spot potential fatal risks, but it’s one that surely has currency as a core leadership attribute for us all.

This article is filed under: leadership

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