If you’ve had a job for any length of time, it is not lost on you that your supervisor can have a significant impact on your day. Your relationship to your supervisor can make you feel like being more or less productive and empowered. As a leader, it is important to know what brings out the best in your employees. As an employee, it feels great to work for someone who understands and practices effective leadership skills.
The role of mindfulness in the workplace has increasingly been recognized as an important quality associated with better task performance, lower emotional exhaustion, better social relationships, and enhanced well-being (Narayanan, Chaturvedi, Reb, and Srinivas, 2011; Glomb, Duffy, Bono, and Yang, 2011). Research has also examined how supervisors’ mindfulness impacts their employees’ well-being and performance (Matthias, Narayanan, and Chaturvedi, 2014).
How mindfulness can help leaders in their ability to strengthen the workplace was directly examined in a recent study of a variety of work settings (Matthias, Narayanan, & Chaturvedi, 2014). The study found that employees whose supervisors who were more mindful had less emotional exhaustion and better work-life balance. Further, mindfulness of the supervisor was positively related to overall employee performance and job satisfaction and negatively related to employee deviance.
Mindfulness, present-moment awareness with an observing, non-judging stance, can influence the workplace in the following ways:
- Move people from an adversarial mindset to a more collaborative mindset (Riskin, 2002)
- Improve social interactions between co-workers and supervisors (Wachs & Cordova, 2007)
- Cope better with stressful relationships (Barnes et al 2007)
- Understand others’ emotional states as well as better understand one’s own emotions (Arch & Craskse, 2006)
- Be fully present in interactions with each other in order to demonstrate respect
To become the leader that truly inspires, cultivating the skill of mindfulness can increase awareness of yourself and others in order to increase your emotional intelligence and authentic leadership ability—two concepts known to be associated with great leadership.
For more information about mindful leadership, check out Janice Marturano’s book “Finding the Space to Lead” and her website which has lots of mindfulness meditations you can use throughout the workday. Books on the Neuroleadership website by David Rock and “Search Inside Yourself” are also good resources for enhancing your leadership skills.