Rob Dube is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Detroit, speaker, author and proponent of mindful leadership. He is president and co-founder of imageOne, a document lifecycle management provider and a 2017 Forbes Small Giant. Rob is passionate about delivering extraordinary experiences for his team members, customers and community. We asked him how mindful behaviors can impact leadership. Here's what he shared.
People sometimes assume leaders are more adept at rising above the roadblocks and stressors of everyday life. However, leaders face a unique kind of stress, and managing it can be challenging. When you're a mindful leader, you intentionally put strong disciplines in place to manage the stresses and heighten your energy, awareness and creativity.
I view being a leader as a gift because it provides the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. I take the responsibility that comes with this gift very seriously and try to make the most it, constantly studying how to best utilize leadership skills to make a positive impact.
Following are five positive behaviors that mindful leaders exhibit. Are these part of your daily discipline? If so, you are likely enhancing the lives and careers of your team members. If not, there's good news: these are easy to incorporate.
1. You remain completely focused when people talk to you.
During meetings, do you give your team your full attention? When an employee approaches you with a problem, can you resist the urge to begin solving it in your head and instead listen without judgment?
It's a fact that our minds are constantly full of chatter― studies suggest that our minds wander during nearly half of our waking hours. But we have a choice: Do we surrender to that phenomenon, or do we train our attention and give our full, complete presence to the task at hand?
2. You make thoughtful decisions.
Every decision involves a certain level of bias, judgment and emotion. As leaders, we make countless decisions every day―are you making them with your head or your heart? A mindful leader uses both.
When you pause and bring awareness to your biases, judgments and emotions, you empower better decisions. Check in ―are your emotions tricking you into thinking that you're making the right decision when you're actually just fulfilling an emotional response? Do a quick mental and emotional check, make the decision and move on. Mindfulness builds the awareness muscle in your head to mindfully regulate emotions, helping you better assess and make decisions without judgment.
3. You empower team members.
When a team member comes to you with an issue or challenge, do you ask questions and allow them to reach their own conclusions? Do you compliment or reward great decisions? Do you use poor decisions as a teaching opportunity? Team member performance improves when they feel empowered and unconditionally trusted. Often, employees will make a different decision than you would have made, but there's more than one solution to every problem. My good friend and mentor, Gino Wickman, taught me that it's not about who's right, it's about what's right.
Your team can only be as strong as you are. Mindful leaders give their full attention and presence, and notice employees' strengths and successes on an entirely new level. They are more patient with weaknesses and eagerly partner to drive successes.
4. You sleep well at night.
Making sleep a priority may seem like a small thing, but it can't be overstated. A good night's sleep allows you to be more mindful during the day and enjoy extraordinary interactions. Sure, things won't always go perfectly― we can only control the way we show up, not outcomes. Mindful leaders tend to stop, slow down and breathe―even if just for a moment. Letting go of an emotional decision made during a crisis or worrying about an unresponsive customer takes practice, but for leaders who learn to let go before drifting into sleep, the next day will start with a fresh set of ideas and energy to counteract those situations. If your mind's keeping you up at night, you're missing the balance that mindfulness provides.
5. You have a regular meditation practice.
Our lives are busy, but meditation is worth prioritizing. We are so busy that researchers coined a term for the unique experience of leaders: power stress. It means we're more susceptible to stress because of the demands of authority, the inherent loneliness of being at the top, and knowing our daily decisions affect team members' lives. Outside of work, we have obligations to our families, communities, and ourselves as leaders. Sitting for 5-20 minutes each day makes a measurable difference in your leadership. Research has proven that 20 minutes of meditation a day is not time lost; it is time gained.
Developing these five practices takes commitment and discipline, but most leaders I know have that in abundance. Make it a personal challenge and commit to being more mindful in the next 90 days. Then survey your team to ask if they noticed a difference. By just taking that first leap, you begin your journey toward mindful leadership.