Dr O's Blog

Mindful Leadership

June 16th, 2013


Maybe the most impactful thought I took away from my studies of leadership was Frances Hesselbein’s statement that the leader of the future will not think as much about “what to do, but how to be.” That vision resonated when I reflected on my own experience as a manager. The more I focused on my own state of being – qualities such as being “relaxed, alert, curious, closed minded, open minded, negative, positive, or self-confident” as described by Erika Garms in her Training+Development article, Mindful Leadership – the better leader I became. It was this insight that led me to study leadership, culture and emotional intelligence. The growing interest in mindful leadership, and mindfulness in general, is so promising to me! It’s what we are when we’re curious, empathic, and persevering – ways of being and developing that I’m exploring.

Mindful is a brand new magazine I’ve subscribed to (and highly recommend) and the second edition profiles Representative Tim Ryan (D, Ohio), a mindful leader who has written A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit. Ryan in formulating legislation supporting mindfulness teacher training and stress reduction in health care, job training, military, and veteran programs. “The mindfulness agenda cuts through a lot of the current political divides. Because it is based on self-care, preventing illness, and increasing your overall well-being, it saves health care dollars and promotes individual responsibility.”  This is mindful leadership. And I believe if we can get it started with our leaders (and children), it will be a new spirit, beyond what we might recapture.

Because mindfulness is a discipline of the mind, the practices to create it are meditation and being present. There are plenty of resources and portals to mindfulness available to us (excuse me, but I resist saying “google it”).  Study and practice of the Science of Mind is mine. But really like Tim Ryan’s approach to raising awareness. He creates opportunities for others to join him in conversation and practice. Garms agrees “these states of being are attained by having experiences and by discussing the experiences with others who have attained them.”  That’s mindful leadership and the possibilities are endless!


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