Mindfulness, a buzz word we hear often today. But why is Mindfulness so important and what does that mean when it relates to leadership?
I was in my early 20’s when I ran my first spa. I had a team of 50 employees and I was determined to succeed and create one of the best spas in Canada. However, my ideals of what being a great leader meant, were skewed. I thought the harder I worked the more respect I would gain from my team. So I worked 7 days a week for a year straight thinking this was the formula for success. The problem with this scenario might be obvious. How can a leader have a clear head when they eat, breath and sleep work? It is impossible to gain rational perspective and make sound decisions.
I took things way to personal when they went wrong. If someone quit, it was the end of the world to me, as the spa was my world. I cared too much about my work and not enough about myself. And the irony is that in this industry we are promoting self-care for others and yet as a leader I did not model this for my team and customers. The other problem with my scenario was that I built a culture where my staff became dependent on me and could not make decisions on their own. I was always there to solve the problems. This was not sustainable for myself and nor was it empowering for my team members.
Over the years I learned that the most important thing as a leader in achieving success is Mindfulness.
Let’s explore the true meaning of Mindfulness.
To simplify what this means think of mindfulness as an elevated consciousness. It means you are being mindful with your thoughts, actions and behaviors. You are more aware of yourself. When we become more aware, we automatically take note of our actions and become accountable for our results and outcomes in life. This is such a powerful tool to embrace because it allows you to take power of your own life and remember that you get to create it. It takes us from “why does this always happen to me” to “look what I created”.
Mindfulness puts you in the driver seat of your life and the more you practice it, the more you will realize how important it is to create positive outcomes.
Mindful leadership is a necessity today to create a company with heart, loyalty and passion. It does not matter if you are leading a team of 2 or 2,000, as a leader you have power to impact people’s lives.
Not only can mindful leadership create great success for your bottom line, but also in you and your team’s overall happiness. Mindful leadership is leading with your heart.
As a leadership coach, the most important thing I teach leaders today, is not about how to generate more revenue, or better marketing plans or cost savings initiatives; rather how they can elevate their own consciousness and be a mindful leader to create lasting success.
Let’s explore some simple ways to become a mindful leader.
Key Actions to Leader Mindfulness
Create a Morning Ritual to Start your Day with an Elevated Mindset.
This will allow you to elevate your own energy, get your mind in an elevated state so you can conquer your day with strength and integrity. It will allow you to be proactive and less reactive.
Samples of Morning Self Care Rituals:
- Exercise – this increases serotonin levels and gets our mood in a better state
- Meditation – taps into your higher self and pulls you out of drama
- Journaling – allows you to set intentions and empty thoughts in a safe way
- Gratitude – I am a big believer that gratitude changes attitude.
It is the responsibility of a leader to show up as our highest and best each day. But we are human, and we all have our own difficulties. So morning rituals around self-care become a necessity to lead with intention and get our mindset into a positive place.
Elevate Communication and Understanding – 3 Step Approach
First Step: Engage
The first step is to engage with your employees. We cannot expect them to be mind readers.
Engagement means proper communication in order to have a successful relationship. This can come in the form of team meetings, smaller group meetings and one-on-one meetings. The importance here is to keep communication flowing two ways. Allowing you as a leader to have a voice in setting clear expectations and also allowing your employees to have a voice as a member of the team. Depending on the size and scope of your spa or wellness center, team meetings are suggested at least once a month. Smaller huddles can happen daily or weekly. And one on one engagement should be an organic but frequent experience. This is different than a yearly review. It is important to remember that life comes up and as leaders we need to understand our employee’s situation, which leads me to my next step.
Second Step: Understand
Do you think it is appropriate to be in tuned with an employee’s personal life and situations? Absolutely. It is important to understand what makes our employees happy outside of work, what motivates them, what their home life is like and to treat them as a whole person rather than just a paycheck. This is the heart centered work as a leader. A mindful leader will understand their employees and care for them. The clearer we understand our employee’s situations the easier it becomes to work together and create harmony. And this leads to adapting.
Third Step: Adapt
Sometimes we can make the smallest changes to an employees work schedule that alleviates a lot of pressure. I used to think as a leader in order to be fair I had to have the exact same rules for everyone. Fair does not always mean equal. For example if you have an employee that needs to take kids to daycare in the morning which means they are always coming in “late” for a 9:00am start time. Adjust their start time. Depending on home life some might want to start earlier and some later. At the end of the day when we can accommodate and be flexible, then we can also ask for flexibility back and this will alleviate a lot of stress for your employees and also between staff members. Getting to know your employees a bit deeper so you can adapt when necessary will pay off greatly. Please be clear this does not mean that expectations are not clear. In fact it is super important when having an environment with flexibility, that you are very clear on expectations and job requirements.
Lead by Example – Your Energy Will Be Infectious!
As a mindful leader you will become aware that your team will watch you and emulate behaviors. For instance, if you are eating junk food everyday then you set the tone of the culture around food at work. If you are conscious around eating, exercise and self-care, you will set a positive tone of that in your workplace. In this industry it is important that we take time for self-care as this is the exact thing we are promoting. This elevates our energy and has a positive infectious effect.
Create a Community
Think of the work environment as a place of community. As humans having a place where we feel we belong is one of our intrinsic needs. Unfortunately in North America the sense of community has declined. We have gone from small town local shopping, to on-line or big city center shopping malls. We have adopted a mindset of convenience taking priority over community. Neighborhoods are not built today with a local gathering or meeting place. And yet community brings people together, community allows people to feel safe and connected. So now more than ever you have an opportunity to create that in your work environment. This will create a culture around loyalty because it becomes more than work for your employees but rather a place of belonging.
Some ways you can create a sense of community at work:
- Have a team pot luck lunch once a month
- Join a charity run or walk together as a team
- Incorporate wellness classes at work. E.g. meditation, yoga, nutrition
- Do a group sugar detox or cleanse
- Have a weight loss challenge
- Have a daily movement challenge.
- Ask for your employees input and ideas regularly
Be Consistent and Own Mistakes
Being consistent in your behavior as a leader is essential to creating an environment where everyone feels safe and they can trust. If the rules change day to day depending on your mood or depending on who asked at what time, this creates tension and anxiety. Consistency gives your team a clear picture of your morals and values and company culture that you are setting.
Making mistakes does not have to be bad. As a leader you are allowed to change your mind and also make mistakes. In fact I think it is great when this happens but the key is to own your mistakes to your team. Let them see you are human and let them see your vulnerability. This allows them to follow your lead and also be accountable for their mistakes. It takes pressure of the strive for perfectionism and gives them a sense of security.
Remember as a mindful leader, it is not about being perfect but rather about being truthful and always looking for ways to grow as a leader so your team can grow with you.
Enjoy the Results
Mindfulness brings a new level of consciousness to you, your business and your team. It allows you to be present in all moments and get beyond the drama that can occur. It creates more balance in your life and work. And ultimately it improves your bottom line.
I know for me this was a game changer to my success and overall happiness. I was able to run a huge business operation, with over 300 employees where we saw year after year growth. And the key part was that I was able to do this 4 days a week. So I created far more success with a balanced and mindful approach rather than feeling like I had to sacrifice everything to succeed.
When you learn to be mindful in your life, it is impossible to get so out of balance because your barometer for happiness goes up and you will not be willing to compromise the most important thing: Yourself!
And when we do this magic happens all around us. We are able to achieve success, impact others in a deep way and enjoy the fruits of our success.
By: Julie Cass
Founder of The positive Change Group
Mindful Leadership as seen in Spa Canada Magazine