Friday, September 30
You know it when you see it, but can you define it? Can you become it? Think of someone you know that has great leadership presence. It can be a manager, a colleague, an acquaintance, or a public figure. Pause now and jot down some of those characteristics. What did you come up with?
My guess is you listed some of the key characteristics of being a mindful leader. A mindful leader is one who is in the moment. They look you in the eye. They listen. They carry themselves with a peaceful confidence. They are centered. Janice L. Marturano, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership said, “Presence is a dynamic and fluid sense of being fully present in body, mind, and heart and knowing it.”
Are you still here with me now? Or is your mind wandering off to the next thing you need to do? Or to that noise you may be hearing from the other room? Stop. Take a deep breath, and come back here. Breathing is one of the keys to being mindful.
In this complex world with multiple stimulations and competing priorities, we have to more intentionally work to stay present. Awareness of your breathing, body, thoughts, sensations, and feelings help you to achieve this state of being. Mindfulness helps you to de-stress, to focus, and to be a better you. People notice; you begin to exude leadership presence.
Are you thinking that all this is just a new age fad? Think again. Extensive behavioral and brain research is proving how mindfulness practice can help you succeed in many aspects of your life, with leadership being one of them. When you are mindful, you are less reactive and more creative, strategic, engaging, healthy, and vital. You can engage with others and help motivate them toward their goals.
If you are not already practicing mindfulness, take one small step and try it out. Perhaps try integrating the practice of pausing and taking deep breaths when you find your mind is unfocused. Over time, I’m confident that you will realize that mindfulness is essential to successfully existing in today’s world and to being an effective formal or informal leader.
Great leaders, therefore, are fully ‘here’ – they are present. Are you still here?
Diane Washington, Executive Assistant to the Dean, Dean’s Office, School of Nursing