A recent study revealed that when leaders are stressed, their anxiety can be felt across the entire organization, often to the point where good employees will walk away from a job to save their own health. Only 7 percent of employees surveyed believe that their stressed leaders effectively lead their teams, and only 11 percent of employees with stressed leaders are highly engaged at work.
The study also found that when leaders fail to manage their stress in a constructive way, more than 50 percent of their employees perceive their leader as harmful or ineffective. Further when leaders are unable to manage stress, employees lose their drive to advance within the company.
One of the most effective ways to manage stress is mindfulness. When leaders actively engage in mindfulness practices, the "psychological capital" of an organization rises. There are 4 components of psychological capital:
How the leaders of an organization manage their own stress directly impacts the levels of these 4 components.
How Mindful Leaders Think
Harvard Business Review research identified 3 specific areas of mastery that allow leaders to be more present, more thoughtful in their organizational choices, and more aware of everything going on around them. The three areas are:
Becoming a Mindful Leader
The first step to becoming a mindful leader is to develop self-awareness. We can not change what we don't know. Leaders can raise their own mindfulness by paying attention to how they are showing up with people and within situations at work.
Once we become aware of how we are reacting and engaging, we can make a plan to improve our awareness and presence. One of the easiest changes we can make starts with our breath. A 5-minute breathing exercise every day will diffuse reactions and emotions.
In addition to become aware of our breath, there are many other tactics leaders can use daily to increase mindfulness:
Integrating mindfulness into our daily lives is often easier said then done. Neuroscience expert Christine Comaford shares several strategies for slowly adapting this lifestyle.
The Emotional Energy Starts at the Top
Creating a healthy, emotionally safe work environment has never been more important. As with everything else in a company, this initiative starts at the top. Leaders must remember they are always being watched.
What does your emotional presence tell your employees about you and the company?