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Transforming How You Lead through Mindfulness – By Businessworld Editor-in-Chief

“Stopping for a moment, realigning your focus, and then considering a decision doesn’t mean that your company will fall behind.”

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Mr. Batra was speaking at the first Mindful Leader Summit India held in Delhi. The summit is affiliated to the Mindful Leadership Summit based in Washington DC, USA.

Read on for key excerpts

“Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as paying attention in a particular way. On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally."

1) They are accountable.

“There’s a long legacy of managers who place blame on their team members or external circumstances to avoid responsibility and the potential for a backlash from higher-ups.”

“Instead, mindful leaders ask what they could have done to prevent the problem, and what they can do now to solve it. They are also transparent about their own failings, which encourages others to share their insecurities and shortcomings.”

2) They value clarity, not speed, in decision-making.

“One area where mindfulness and meditation have shown to be beneficial in decision-making is in reducing the impact of sunk-cost bias. [It’s] when you think that you need to keep investing in something until it is successful because of how much you have already invested. You stick with a decision because you don’t want to lose the time and money you have already spent.”

“Stopping for a moment, realigning your focus, and then considering a decision doesn’t mean that your company will fall behind. It means you can clearly understand what is at stake, what’s important, and what needs to happen next to put you on the best path forward.”

3) They are adaptive.

“Many of the problems leaders face are unruly. There is no defined issue nor a straightforward solution. Mindfulness practices teach people to pay attention to habitual thoughts, preconceived notions, and decision-making processes. This focus helps managers to realize if they are defaulting to a previously known solution. In addition, mindfulness can be used to recognize the emotional and physical stressors that may be causing a person to make ill-informed or risky decisions.”

“Mindful leaders don’t manage by reacting to events. They are proactive and present.”

4) They start with compassion.

“Chade-Meng Tan, the head of personal growth at Google, discussed compassion in a TED Talk a few years ago. He described the three main areas of compassion.”

• Affective Component: “I feel for you.”
• Cognitive Component: “I understand you.”
• Motivational Component: “I want to help you.”

“Researchers at the Stress Institute found that employees who reported to managers who were incompetent, inconsiderate, and uncommunicative were 60% more likely to suffer a heart attack or other life-threatening cardiac condition.”

5) They are open to change and innovation.

“People don’t like change. Change is threatening. It is new. It is unproven. And while you might like to think you are a go-with-the flow type of person, most likely you too are more comfortable and happy when you know what you need to do and when you need to do it. This is especially applicable in the workplace.”

“Leaders who practice mindfulness are open to new information and details that will prove that change is needed and beneficial. They understand that holding on also holds companies back.”

6) They prevent burnout -- in themselves and their team.

“Being present requires a person to recognize their emotional state, understand it, and make changes if it is detrimental to their well-being. When people continually push themselves, they can reach burn-out, which can easily lead to indifference and unhappiness.”

“Being more aware of this in themselves means managers can look for the signs in someone else. They can encourage their team members to work hard but to also pay attention to the signs that they need a break. This approach will result in fewer sick days and happier employees.”

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