14 Jan Promoting Mindful Leadership To Improve Organisational Health
Mindfulness and the benefits it can bring in both our careers and personal lives has been a hot topic throughout 2015, and this is set to continue into the year ahead. As our threshold for stress heightens, leaders, managers and employees alike are searching for ways to unwind and relax, in order to improve performance and productivity.
We’ve previously talked about mindfulness, and how using it in the workplace can create a new kind of leader. But as mindful practises seep into strong leadership, how can we use them to create overall healthier organisations? Can mindful leadership be the key to unlocking the full potential of your business?
What is mindful leadership?
There are many aspects to mindfulness, but the most commonly acknowledged are self-observation, the ability to focus on our own minds and thoughts, living more completely in the present, and acting and listening without judgment.
Being mindful generates improvements in self-awareness, focus, wellbeing, decision making and also helping others to manage their emotions too. Mindfulness increases and strengthens your emotional intelligence, which in turn makes you into a powerful leader.
What is organisational health?
According to organizationalhealth.com, it can be defined ‘as an organization’s ability to function effectively, to cope adequately, to change appropriately and to grow from within.” Looking after your organisational health is key to staying competitive in your industry, and Fortune defines organisational health as ‘the capacity of the organization to compete not only today, but tomorrow” – in a way, staying ‘healthy’ is a way of futureproofing your business.
Some key metrics for organisational health are:
- Alignment – whether your company is aligned in terms of goals and sense of purpose. This must emulate from leaders in order to be ingrained in your employees.
- Capacity for execution – your company cannot be described as ‘healthy’ if it’s unable to deliver for clients. How quickly can you put ideas into action? How much interference, complexity and bottlenecking is there in your operational structure that could slow this down?
- Capacity for change – the ability to innovate, renew and evolve is key to a healthy organisation. Does your company constantly challenge itself in terms of the speed at which it can evolve? Do you measure your rate of change against what’s needed in the industry, or against only what you have achieved in the past?
There are many other ways to measure organisational health, such as communication, morale, autonomy, problem solving… but the most important factor in nurturing the wellbeing of your organisation, is in nurturing that of the people in it. Promoting mindful leadership is a way to achieve this.
Mindful leaders make a mindful team
You cannot achieve true organisational health and wellbeing without motivated and engaged employees.
Harvard Business Review recently shared an article stating ‘To Motivate Employees, Do 3 Things Well’. These do not consist of ‘material perks’ like salary, bonuses or free equipment, although they often help, because these kinds of motivators “do not address more effective drivers of long term wellbeing”. The three things they discuss dig a little deeper, and practising mindful leadership could go a long way to achieving them.
These three things are:
Relating to the company alignment, a previously mentioned factor of organisation health, inspiration in this sense involves building a culture infused with meaning, giving your team a sense of purpose to make them more focused and creative, and developing inspirational leaders to spread this throughout the business.
Leaders are a key source of inspiration; traits like selflessness, fairness, and showing an allegiance to your team rather than holding yourself in a higher stead are all applauded as those of an inspirational leader. Mindfulness can help the leaders in your business achieve these; a mindful leader is able to focus more effectively and find clarity, and this can be shared with employees.
As this Harvard Business Review article states, “workplace interactions are often no more than transactional exchanges. This is a mistake.”
Creating a sense of warmth, positivity and caring for others in the workplace is so important for happy, motivated employees – and this must be shown through the leaders in your business. Small things like asking how someone is and really listening to the answer can work wonders to bolster morale, and becoming more mindful allows us to do this more effectively, as well as becoming more aware of our emotions and how to manage the emotions of those around us.
Mindfulness helps us become less stressed, more calm and more positive, and positivity cannot be underestimated in importance when striving for a healthy organisation.
A lot of companies talk about self-care and wellness programs for their employees, but few actually make them happen. Exercising, breaks from work, meditation, relaxation and restricting out of hours working are just some self-care practises that could drastically improve morale and productivity in your office.
For employees to truly believe in their wellbeing and act on it, your workplace must create a culture where it is acceptable and encouraged – and where leaders are examples of this behaviour. Promoting mindfulness amongst your team is a really effective way to start this and developing mindful leaders will show others the way. Mindful leaders can encourage their practises to their teams so that the whole organisation can feel the benefits.
Mindfulness isn’t just a practise for the individual, for one CEO or for a handful of managers – its implementation across the whole of your organisation can reap incredible rewards, and help your company become a whole lot healthier.
Have you started developing mindful leaders in your company?
What can you do today to start improving your organisational health?
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