Mindful leadership: what it is and how it has been gaining strength

Mindful leadership is a concept that has been growing within companies. If you are curious to better understand what it is and its benefits, check out this article until the end!

In his book “Foco”, Daniel Goleman states:

“To achieve results, leaders need three types of focus. The internal focus puts us in line with our intuitions, our core values ​​and our best decisions. The focus on the other facilitates our connections with the people in our lives. 

And the external focus helps us to navigate the world around us. A leader out of touch with his internal world will be disoriented; a leader blind to the world of others will be uninformed; leaders indifferent to the larger systems within which they operate will be taken by surprise. ”

As we will see below, mindful leadership is closely related to mindfulness, so Goleman emphasizes the importance of focus for leadership development .

What is mindful leadership?

The concept of mindful leadership proposes a more conscious leadership capable of cultivating a state of attention. It is based on the development of leaders who cultivate more qualified internal states.

It is a scientifically grounded and proven approach that helps to clear the mind and manage our emotions, so that we can develop sustainable leadership based on full awareness.

To better understand, we can take a step back and revisit the concept of mindfulness , which has received a lot of attention in recent years. That’s because, more and more, we live at a frantic pace and we feel the need to slow down and focus on what’s important.

Our mind is full of distractions and mindfulness is nothing more than maintaining a state of mindfulness, that is, paying attention to what you are doing when you are doing it.

Just think about day-to-day routines, such as when you’re on the way to work and your mind starts to wander about the thousand things you need to do that day. You are not focused on the present moment, because your mind is full of thoughts and distractions.

Mindfulness is a set of techniques that help to focus on the here and now, preventing the past or future from affecting you as in this case of thoughts on the way to work.

Mindful leadership follows this logic, as it is closely related to the fact that leaders must cultivate mindfulness and develop focus , as this is beneficial not only for these professionals but for everyone around them.

This has been the question of many HR specialists and Psychologists: after all, how can we transform the current leadership structure into more conscious management and with a focus on what is being carried out?

What are the benefits of mindful leadership?

There are many benefits of developing more aware leaders, as the teams of these professionals are also directly affected. Overall, mindfulness has proven to be a tool capable of helping leaders to control stress , which also helps the followers to be less stressed and, in this way, a much healthier environment is created.

As you can see, it is a kind of ripple effect, since from the moment when leadership is better developed, everything below it is also positively impacted.

Next, let us know the main benefits of mindful leadership!

  1. Decreases stress and anxiety levels

Research confirms that when a leader is very stressed, anxiety can be felt by all members of the company, which ends up affecting the performance of employees.

Other data from the study also point out how stress is harmful to daily work. Only 7% of respondents believe that stressed leaders are really capable of leading their teams. In addition, only 11% of professionals with stressed leaders are very engaged at work.

It is not necessary to say much more to make sure that it is extremely important to work to reduce stress levels within companies, right?

Mindful leadership is one of the smartest ways to develop to avoid the disastrous advances of professional burnout. The mindfulness is beneficial for the body and the mind, contributing to a daily lighter and healthier.

  1. Increased creativity

When a person is able to really focus on what they are doing, consequently the chances of finding better and more creative solutions are greater.

This is because, in the face of distractions and scattered thoughts, you are unable to put your full attention on the activity you are exercising in such a way that it wastes part of your potential.

When a leader understands the importance of mindfulness and is able to apply it on a daily basis, the team can also enjoy the benefits. It is up to the leadership to help the team to prioritize the tasks that are in progress and to be able to focus on their completion.

  1. Improved productivity and performance

How much longer have you taken a task because you just couldn’t focus on it?

This happens even more than we realize (and much more than we would like). Unfortunately, distractions cross our minds and when we don’t know how to control them, we easily lose focus.

From the moment that mindful leadership is developed, the professional knows himself better and is able to concentrate on what he is doing, performing tasks more quickly.

That way, it is clear that he becomes more productive and is able to do more in less time, eliminating the procrastination of his daily life.

Furthermore, as conscious leaders are able to give the necessary focus to the tasks they perform, they are able to make better decisions, avoiding precipitations.

Being able to put your full attention on what you are doing is therefore a way to achieve better results for yourself, your team members and the company as a whole.

  1. Development of self-knowledge

Mindfulness is a technique that aims to help the person focus on the present and, therefore, in this way, makes you deepen your self-knowledge as well.

By becoming more aware of your mind and feelings, you also become even more capable of recognizing your emotions and managing them in the best possible way.

This means that when you are working and you are disturbed by the sadness of a fight or the extreme happiness of an achievement, you will not let such emotions interfere with your focus on the present moment at that moment.

After all, how many times have you been unable to produce everything you needed because you were completely distracted by what you felt, letting your mind wander through emotions?

This happens a lot on a daily basis and it is important to emphasize that emotional intelligence , that is, the recognition and control of emotions is very much linked to this point.

  1. Increased empathy

Very stressful environments have the ability to affect not only the productivity and performance of employees, but also end up making them stop seeing each other.

By this, I mean that mindful leadership is able to awaken empathy , because more conscious and focused leadership can better see the needs of the people around them.

Thus, the whole team also becomes more cooperative and people seek to help each other to achieve common goals. In addition, by strengthening team spirit, mindful leadership also helps people to work mindfulness focused on the other.

This means that, in addition to the benefits geared towards oneself, this new leadership style is also beneficial for people to learn to put themselves in the other’s shoes, developing empathy.

  1. Non-critical awareness

Another very important benefit of mindful leadership is the fact that mindfulness helps the leadership to see and analyze situations without putting criticism or prejudice on the table.

In this way, the professional focuses on solving the problem so that it is actually resolved and, later, thinks about creating preventive measures.

  1. Greater clarity and serenity

Developing self-knowledge and getting to know your own mind more deeply helps in conflict resolution and seeks solutions to resolve situations.

This is because mindfulness techniques help to bring greater clarity and serenity, that is, you stop making hasty and impulse decisions that would not necessarily be the most appropriate.

Clarity and serenity are important elements for the day to day work, as they make the leadership transmit confidence and calm to other team members.

  1. Decreases the levels of presenteeism

Presenteeism has everything to do with mindful leadership, as it is a professional who is physically present in the work environment, but with a distant and dispersed mind.

This means that it is only there in the body in such a way that, in reality, it is totally disconnected with its function.

Mindful leadership is a powerful tool to reduce the rates of presenteeism, because as we saw earlier, its main benefit is mindfulness.

The data are serious, as according to ISMA-BR, about 23% of the adult population is a gift. As much as presenteeism has several causes, such as job dissatisfaction, in some cases the professional may like his job, but is having difficulty solving internal issues that take his focus away from day to day.

This is an example in which including mindfulness techniques in the routine can be beneficial and bring positive results for both the employee and the company.

How to develop mindful leadership?

There are a few ways to develop mindful leadership.

Then, let’s check some of them?

  1. Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice that has been gaining more and more followers. Many people do not practice because they have the wrong idea of ​​meditation: it is not about not thinking about anything, but focusing on the present moment.

Meditation is very much related to the development of self-awareness , that is, learning to create awareness of what you think and feel and being able to control all this so that, at the right times, you can “clear” your mind. It is, therefore, not to cling to thoughts and let them come and go.

In addition, it is essential to decrease levels of stress and anxiety. This was revealed by a survey conducted by Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, the Federal University of São Paulo and the Appana Mind Institute.

The study pointed out that doing 1 hour and 15 minutes of Yoga and meditation three times a week, for two months, was able to cut the cortisol concentration of the people evaluated in half.

The research group was made up of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, so they had high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

To start, the ideal is to look for guided meditation apps (Headspace and Insight Timer, for example), as they will help you focus on what is needed. Furthermore, a good meditation is not measured by its duration, but by the quality of the practice.

Start with meditations of 5 to 10 minutes and gradually increase. Do not rush, as respecting your pace and limitations is very important. Finally, remember that the benefits of meditation come with constant practice, so ideally, schedule a time in your schedule to meditate every day.

  1. Yoga

Yoga helps people to create awareness of their body as a whole. The practice is very beneficial for both the physical and mental state.

When doing Yoga, you will need to work mindfulness and focus on what you are doing, otherwise you are not doing Yoga.

Many practices also mix meditations and breathing exercises that are great for focusing.

  1. Breathing techniques

Breathing is very powerful. Have you stopped to analyze how when you are anxious and nervous your breathing becomes short and labored?

Breathing plays an essential role in your daily life and in the development of mindful leadership. There are several techniques and breathing that can be useful and beneficial.

By focusing on a few breathing exercises throughout the day, you will be able to dispel reactions and emotions. Notice how some deeper breaths are able to decrease tension, calm the mind and provide more lightness to your body;

Believe me: breathing is powerful.

  1. Therapy

The therapy is a tool that does not come to mind of all who think of mindful leadership, but know that it is very effective?

To begin with, there are psychologists specialized in corporate leadership and who are ideal to help in the development of these professionals in different areas.

In addition, therapy is based on a profound process of self-knowledge, which helps people to recognize and control their emotions.

In this way, little by little, they deepen their knowledge about themselves and develop themselves to become conscious leaders.

How can companies develop mindful leadership?

Companies that assume their responsibilities in the development of conscientious leaders are those that truly care about the corporate environment and the growth of their employees.


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