Is there a connection between leadership and mindfulness? Is there a connection between profitability and mindfulness? What is the benefit of mindfulness on a remote team? And why is it crucial now more than ever? Today we interview Dr. Keren Tsuk to uncover the importance of Mindfulness Based Leadership.
We are in the midst of huge transformation and it’s transforming the way we live and work. Leaders want to be successful, creative, and innovative. To do this, leaders need to have a flexible mindset that rapidly adjusts to the changing needs of the environment. In order to do this, leaders need to practice Mindfulness Based Leadership.
Why is mindfulness important to organizations today?
Successful leaders need to be able to balance tensions. Leaders need to be able to hold tensions between opposite ends of spectrums. In business, leaders need to hold tensions in areas such as short term and long term business outlooks, speed and quality, and employees’ needs and the organization’s needs. As a result, leading mindfully allows leaders to hold space for these tensions and enable the right solutions to emerge.
What is Mindfulness Based Leadership?
What mindfulness is
The ability to be present, here and now, intentionally, and in a non-judgemental way. (Mindfulness Definition of Jon Kabat-Znn)
Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of the experience that we are going through in a non-judgemental way and without being managed by it. So this could be a thought, an emotion that you’re feeling, or a process you’re going through.
When Mindful Leaders feel stressed, they acknowledge and share it with their team. Observing and acknowledging stress allows leaders to manage stress rather than letting stress manage them. Additionally, Mindful leaders also acknowledge other people’s stress and give space to the emotions that occur inside of them.
Mindfulness Leadership Bridges Logic With Emotion
We are afraid to connect to and express emotions. In order to avoid our emotions at work, most of the day we work from our mind. However, other important leadership skills like creativity, passion and compassion come from our heart. Mindfulness Based Leadership enables leaders to be more complete. As a result leaders can handle tensions better and find more accurate solutions as they practice mindfulness.
Four Things Mindful Leaders do to Solve Team Problems
- Make Sure Everyone is Fully Present before meetings (Including themselves)
- In opening meetings, mindful leaders ask, “On a scale of 1-10, how present is everybody right now?”
- Create the Space for Tough Conversations & Address Emotions
- Leaders are especially mindful to create the space to solve problems and acknowledge emotions like anger.
- Mindfully empathize with their teammates’ situations.
- Mindful leaders are fully present to listen rather than offering a solution. They are compassionate and empathetic towards others.
- Focus on Self-Management – Walk the Talk
- Mindful leaders have the ability to manage the thoughts and emotions in their internal world. These leaders vulnerably share the thoughts and feelings occurring inside of them.
- Leading through this place is leading by example. “We can’t be for others more than what we are for ourselves.” To illustrate: you can’t love anybody, more than you love yourself. So, if you’re judgmental toward yourself, you will be judgmental towards your employee.
How Mindful Leaders Create Space to Solve Problems
Mindful leaders solve problems in a space that Keren calls A Dialogue Space. A Dialogue Space is a non-judgmental space, focused on being present and active listening.
Mindful Leaders first open the conversation around the issue, and then share their thoughts and feelings on it. Next, they open the floor to get more perspectives.
During this time, everyone else listens to deeply understand each perspective without judgment. There’s no rush to come to a conclusion. In this part of the conversation, no one needs to agree, they just need to respectfully listen and be present.
Then, when everyone is really listening in this space, the accurate solution often emerges. This solution is often not what anyone believes it is in the beginning of the conversation.
How Mindful Leaders Deal With Anger
Mindful leaders acknowledge the emotion if someone loses their temper in a meeting. Leaders can say something like, “I see you’re really stressed right now. However, let’s see if we can talk in a different way that engages people. Can you share with us your experience in a way that’s not finger pointing or judging others?” This response acknowledges the emotion and allows the person a new chance at explaining what’s occurring. Additionally, it opens the space where everyone can be present with a different approach.
For example, there’s a lot to consider when people lose their temper. Mindful Leaders broaden their perspective and don’t act out their own emotions when others lose their temper. When someone loses their temper, Mindful Leaders name the emotion and acknowledge the stress. This is an uncommon but effective approach to use. It addresses the issue head on and helps you tackle the issue underlying the emotion.
The Results of Mindful Leadership
After a failed acquisition attempt one company reached out for Karen’s help. Karen soon discovered that one of the senior VP’s had been creating a hostile environment. The company was losing people because of the VP’s behavior. The CEO was even afraid of confronting the VP’s behavior.
Karen helped the CEO understand that it’s okay to be afraid to confront this manager. The CEO was then able to connect to the broader picture and manage his fear. This enabled him to have the conversation with the VP in a respectful space.
The conversation led the VP to understand that it was time for him to move on from the company with no hard feelings. After this VP left, they found the right person to fill his position. Once this happened, the company was finally acquired.
Tips for leaders in 2021
- Listen to your intuition.
- If you’re on the fence about something, give it a couple days. There’s no need to rush even the most important decisions.
- Create a space for non-judgmental conversation on tough issues.
About Keren Tsuk
Dr. Keren Tsuk is a keynote speaker, consultant, and thought leader in 21st-century leadership.
The Founder of the consulting firm Wisdom To Lead, Tsuk specializes in the development of senior management teams and corporate leadership. She guides companies and senior management teams to reach their full potential using various techniques in the field of mindfulness.
She has developed an innovative Mindfulness-Based Leadership (MBL) course and retreat, which she conducts for different organizations worldwide. Her practice extends to assisting executives to discover their own inner wisdom and maximize their overall leadership potential – both in and out of the workplace. With over 20 years of experience working with senior management in the areas of transition, growth, and development processes, Tsuk has worked with companies such as Checkpoint, Verint, Amdocs, Ex Libris, Google, Siemens, and more.
Being a keynote speaker on the topic of the relationship between mindfulness and leadership, she has lectured at conferences worldwide. She has been invited to speak internationally and has led graduate business school courses at PolyU in Hong Kong, IDC Herzliya, and Lahav Executive Education Tel Aviv University. She has a soon to be published book called Mindfully Wise Leadership: The Secret of Today’s Leaders.