Often our focus in an organization is on results, so we are under pressure to be productive at all times. This often prevents us from taking the time to think about the added value we want to bring. In this context, as a management team, we may have the reflex to focus more on what needs to be accomplished and less on who we need to be as leaders. The danger of this pressure is that we stop noticing, listening and being at our best. Do you have the impression on your executive committee that you are more focused on “DOING”, i.e. on the tasks to be accomplished on a daily basis rather than on “BEING”, i.e. on your added value in the organization? I ask you this question because this time to stop and think is essential and definitely has an impact on the quality of our conversations, our interventions, our decisions, our relationships and our performance. This is what makes the difference between “having a full head” and “being fully aware”.
Recently, I was talking to a coach, a member of a steering committee, and she told me that she sometimes felt like a hamster in her wheel. She often feels like she spends her days in a hurry, she feels overwhelmed and can’t take breaks. As she doesn’t have time to stop and think, she trusts her autopilot, forgetting all the biases that it brings … She is often in the rhythm, in the hurry to deliver and she feels that she has reactions, words or behaviours that she doesn’t always control and that sometimes, exceed her intention. This is the perfect example of having a full head and no more room to think and concentrate.
In fact, when your head is full, you attend meetings where you make decisions based on what has been done before and not on what could be done. We support our employees the same way we did a year ago, even though their needs have changed. We don’t take the time to adapt to them. We focus on our department and our tasks only, because we don’t take the time to see the “big picture”, i.e., the needs of the organization as a whole.
On the contrary, when we are in full consciousness, we are calm, aware, focused, we have more clarté́ and focus. This state of mind allows us to be open, to ourselves, to others and to our environment. We notice, we feel, we see the signs, we adjust to stress, we relativize and we put ourselves more easily in context. If each member of the steering committee is in this state of mind, it will be easier to make the right decisions, to have the necessary conversations, to question oneself and simply to have more effective meetings.
Moreover, scientific research on mindfulness is increasingly demonstrating its positive impact on performance, decision making, memory, emotion regulation, the ability to take perspective, resilience, etc. Does this surprise you?
Concretely, when we are in mindfulness, as a management team, we take the time to reflect on the different elements before making a decision as a group, we invite all the members of the management committee to express themselves on an issue in order to understand all the perspectives. We adapt our communication and support to our employees according to their needs and autonomy. We coach our employees more from a long-term development perspective vs. completing a short-term task.
Now that we’ve established the benefits of mindfulness, you’re probably wondering how to stay in that state of mind? To do so, I invite you to first take a few minutes to become aware of your general state of mind:
How would you describe your general state of mind? Do you have a full head or are you in full consciousness?
How do you present yourself on a daily basis at work? How do you feel at home?
What could you gain by being more present?
And I suggest, to be in this state of mind more often, that each of the members of your executive committee practice this exercise, by Martin Boroson, called the portable minute, whenever they feel the need to do so:
Close your eyes, start a 60-second stopwatch, count your breaths in and out. At the end of the exercise, keep your final count. Afterwards, you can start again, without a stopwatch, whenever you want by simply counting the same number of inspirations and expirations. This exercise will allow you to come back to the present moment and to stop.
The exercise will allow you to refocus in just one minute, so it’s very easy to do at the office, no matter what time of day it is.
In short, practicing mindfulness helps to strengthen our “mental fitness”, like a muscle. Like our physical fitness, it is just as important to develop our “mental fitness”, as this will allow us to be the best version of ourselves. In this way, we will more easily succeed in being the leaders that our teams and the organization need. So, I’d like to close by asking you: what will you put in place to be more aware of yourself more often?