5 steps to build mindfulness into your leadership routine
Weatherhead’s own Christopher Lyddy, a current doctoral candidate, has been in the news recently for his co-authorship, with Darren Good, of research considering 4,000 scientific papers on mindfulness. Their findings are revealed in “Contemplating Mindfulness at Work (An Integrative Review),” recently published in the Journal of Management.
In a previous post, we highlighted Good and Lyddy’s research that overwhelmingly points to mindfulness’ positive impact on:
- Overall human function, including physiology, behavior, cognition and emotion
- Attention, including stability, control and efficiency
- Interpersonal relationships
If you’re an entrepreneur, productivity, employee health and workplace relationships matter to you. Yet, there’s something about the softness of mindfulness holding us back from integrating it into the workplace. Google, Aetna and the Marine Corps are already doing it. But how? Discover these mindfulness practices that are realistic for the workplace, and consider how you can spark your company’s mindfulness culture:
1. Present the research. Good and Lyddy’s “Integration Into Workplace Research” section highlights the following outcomes:
- Improved attention and motivation
- Increased other-orientation versus self-orientation
- Potential for an environment of psychological safety and trust
- Increased awareness of others’ characteristics
- Increased resilience and well-being
In light of the potential impact on individuals and organizations, set the stage for what your employees are missing out on by not practicing mindfulness. Ask them to consider what matters to them, what their greater purpose is, and how mindfulness can propel them to success.
2. Set a goal for team members to choose a day to try meditation. Encourage them to go to a room by themselves for three five-minute sessions throughout the day. During these sessions, they should follow basic meditation principles of focusing on their breath and bringing their mind back to the breath as it wanders. Other than that, leave the format open and short so they can explore what’s best for them without feeling overwhelmed.
3. Start mid-day yoga sessions. These classes should be easy and taught by an expert. The ultimate goal is not physical fitness but healing and awareness. All should feel welcome to join regardless of experience, workload or physical fitness.
4. Set up accountability groups. Find a few mindfulness advocates to begin small accountability groups. During meeting times, group members can discuss personal mindfulness progress, daily goals and new mindfulness ideas. Each accountability group should hold high attendance expectations and ensure the meeting time and frequency works for every member.
5. Encourage a focus on speech and language. Workplace gossip and negativity is rampant, often accepted and easy to join in on. Consider asking employees to focus mindfulness particularly around their conversations and what they truly want to get out of their workplace relationships.
Consider these activities as possible mindfulness practices for your organization, and feel free to adapt them to your company’s unique culture and needs. Keep an open mind, lead by example and encourage employees to do the same as they learn more about themselves.