Good leaders care about workplace culture, while great leaders work to create workplace culture. There’s a difference between the two, and mindfulness can play a huge part in that. Improving what exists and working to create a new norm in the office are two vastly different tasks, with the latter being more effective than the former. While you learn a lot of valuable lessons in leadership training, it’s probable that your instructors haven’t touched on mindfulness. The better training development professionals will, however, make it a vital part of the process.
The concept of mindfulness is simple: as a leader, being mindful means you’re present to the task at hand, listening to employees and their ideas, and you’re aware of the effect your tone, words, and mannerisms have on others. You care about your employees as people, not just as a means to an end. Let’s talk about why leadership mindfulness matters in creating a positive, high achieving workplace culture.
Employees Feel Heard
As leaders, we’ve all been there. An employee walks into your office to discuss an idea, and you listen to them halfheartedly, while checking your emails or scrolling your phone. You’re thinking about the meeting that you have coming up, or the fact that you’re ready for another cup of coffee, or the fact that your employee’s idea is poorly thought out. You listen politely and not appropriately, but you aren’t engaged in the conversation.
Not only does this leave your employee feeling dejected- it also does nothing to work towards building resilience in the workplace. When an employee comes in your office to speak to you, focus solely on what they’re saying, reflecting ideas back to them, and asking questions on points you don’t understand. Good leaders listen without distraction.
You Become A Person
When you come into the office on Monday morning, take a moment to check in with your employees. It may not be possible to do this with everyone every week, so make sure you vary who you talk to on your way to your desk. Doing this allows you to be mindful of the tone of the office, taking note of any personal issues with which your employees may be struggling. When you do this, your employees begin to look at you not just as an authority figure, but as a person.
Intrinsic Motivation Soars As Employees Begin Building Resilience
Great leaders inspire employees to get on board with the company’s vision because they believe in the mission. Some leadership training advises leaders to offer prizes and incentives to build motivation. While these ideas can work short term, great leaders know the importance of helping employees align themselves with the ideals of the company. When you practice mindfulness in the office, fully listening to your employees, you’ll make them feel more invested in big picture goals.
Employees Are More Likely To Admit- And Correct- Mistakes
When you value the time of your employees, listening to their ideas and getting to know them as people, you’re building resilience in the workplace. This means that your employees will be readily able to admit when they’ve made a mistake, rather than spending precious hours trying to fix or cover up issues that could easily have been taken care of by talking to you. This can be a delicate point- you want to your employees to feel comfortable talking to you, but you don’t want to be a doormat. Talking frankly about the effects of the mistake, and the measures that will need to be taken to fix it, can be helpful. It’s important to lead by example here- when you make a mistake, admitting it to your employees can help them feel more comfortable doing the same down the road.
Positive Workplace Culture Means Great Ideas Are Spoken Freely
You know you have great employees- that’s why you hired them. Depending on your workplace culture, your employees may feel nervous to bring up ideas, even when they know they have solutions to big problems. When you practice mindfulness, you create a safe space for your employees to speak up when they see processes that could be improved.
Employees Feel Valued
When you invest your time in checking in with your employees, discussing their ideas, and getting to know them beyond the work they do, they feel that you value them as a person. This means that they’re more likely to want to be productive and effective at work. When you practice mindfulness in the office, your employees know that you’re approachable. They know that when the come to you with ideas, you’re going to think over what they’ve said carefully. They know that they’re going to be listened to, not dismissed. When your employees feel valued, your workplace culture will begin to soar.
Going Above And Beyond Becomes The Norm
Many of the benefits of practicing mindfulness create a domino effect of positivity, resulting in innovation and productivity. Mindfulness tends to be contagious. When employees notice that you’re putting in extra work to improve workplace culture, they’ll want to do the same. Good leaders model the behavior that they want to see from their employees.
Think about it: if your employees practiced mindfulness the way that you do currently, would workplace culture become better or worse? If you’re not being the model of mindfulness that your employees need, there’s no time like the present to make the change. It doesn’t matter how much work you have ahead of you in order to create a positive workplace culture- all that matters is that you start.