Mindfulness at Work: The Importance of Awareness, Mindset, and Skillset as a Leader

Published on
Dec 18, 2022
Written by
Coryne Forest

On a Zoom call this morning, a thought leader in the leadership development space said "Relationships will take you places authority won't".

Then I click into my email and see the headline "Don't Let Power Dynamics Derail Work Communications"

This is surely a sign of what I should post this week!

Managers at every level of the organization, from frontline supervisors and team leads to CEOs and senior executives, need to be careful about how they wield their authority. A manager who, by their action or inaction, lowers the ability of their people to engage in important issues and challenging situations in an open, balanced, non-defensive way, is by definition managing ineffectively.

However, managers can learn to carry their authority in a way that lifts, rather than lowers, the conversations of their team. But it takes discipline.

It's all about developing awareness, mindset, and skillset.

AWARENESS - When we lack self-awareness, we are like a puppet on a string with our emotional reactions pulling the strings. That is not a good place to be operating from—especially for managers. Few things are more disruptive than working for an emotionally unpredictable boss!

MINDSET - A clear mindset allows us to stay attentive to what matters in a situation and respond in a more intentional way—even when we are emotionally triggered. High awareness helps us recognize and manage our emotional reactions, and a clear mindset works like a navigational beacon that helps us maintain our course even when our emotional reactions are trying to throw us off.

SKILLSET - It doesn’t matter how good your mindset is if you can't act on it. The skillset here is to balance candor with curiosity so that our mouth is aligned with our mindset!

If this describes you: nice, agreeable, and pleasant to be around, candor might be your weaker area. Because they don't like to upset people, look like a jerk, give bad news, or hurt feelings, they have a tendency to become less candid under pressure. To be more effective, they need to strengthen their candor muscles so they can say what needs to be said, even when it isn’t easy.

If that doesn't sound like you, your candor might be your superpower. But candor can be a blunt instrument that bludgeons others. To be more effective, these people need to cultivate more open-mindedness, intellectual humility, and a more active interest in the views of others. Be more curious!

We all have to work to keep these in balance and the good news is that we get ample opportunities! We each talk to probably at least a dozen people a day.

Robert Kegan once said, "any organization is a community of discourse, and leadership is about shaping the nature of the discourse."

For me, I usually need to work on candor.

Which one do you need to work on?

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