Cultivating The Attitude Of A Mindful Leader

February 3, 2017

Mindful leader

Have you ever noticed how the attitude a person conveys at work affects the attitudes of those around him? And, consequently, how that attitude affects the outcome of a situation?

Imagine this familiar scenario: You’re sitting in a meeting with your team. A valued team member shares a new idea with the group. After a well-thought-out and enthusiastic explanation of her idea, she’s confident the team will agree. She asks for feedback. The first person to speak up has something critical to share. “The idea will take too much money and time to implement,” he says. Others follow with their input. Some begin to poke holes in the idea, and the discussion quickly turns to suggestions to make the idea “better.” You, the leader, are watching this unfold. Your employee, who came to the meeting excited to share a good idea, begins to appear defensive and uncertain.

Do you see what is happening in this situation? The truth of what is occurring? The attitudes of the people in the room are affecting the outcome of the meeting.

Choosing the attitude of mindful leadership

AMA’s Mindful Leadership seminar reveals that in any given situation, people will take on one of two attitudes. One option is to see and look for the good more often than the bad. The other option is to see and look for the bad more often than the good. While attitudes can vary situationally, most of us have a default attitude. We just don’t realize we do.

Which attitude do you have a tendency toward? The answer might not be what you think. And yet, discovering and understanding the answer is the first step to becoming a more mindful leader.

Your attitude—consciously or not—drives how you show up in the world, on the job, and as a leader. It manifests in your behavior and therefore in how other people experience you. Many of us, in the busyness of our everyday lives, rarely take that extra moment to check ourselves and our attitudes before reacting to something in our environment.

When we’re presented with a situation, an idea, or a problem in the workplace, our first instinct may be to look for what’s not working well, rather than look for the opportunity. In our earlier example, the team went straight to thinking about why the idea wouldn’t work, rather than embracing what was viable about it.

This is not to say that conversations that challenge or evaluate the possibility of ideas aren’t valid or useful. But we need to consider the attitude from which these conversations are conducted, and how a lack of conscious choice about one’s attitude can make all the difference between constructive or destructive results.

Modeling the right attitude for your team

Creating the right attitude on the team starts with you. Raising your awareness of your own attitude is as simple as taking a moment, just a moment, to ask yourself “What is working here?” before you ask “What is wrong?” Taking that moment to check in is simple enough. Making the change to consistently and consciously pause and choose your attitude is the harder work, and mindfulness techniques can help with this process.

Once you’ve chosen your attitude, lead with it. Others will follow, and so will the positive results.

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In AMA's new seminar, learn the techniques of mindfulness that allow you to become more aware as a leader. You'll access greater creativity and personal growth—while inspiring trust, engagement, and productivity in others.

About The Author

Julie Dresen is co-founder and managing partner of Coin Harlan Consulting, a custom learning solutions design and development firm. She has 18 years of experience as an instructional designer and strategic learning consultant working extensively with leadership content. She has actively studied and practiced mindfulness for more than five years, including for the past several years a study of the mind, based on Eastern thought, with a nonsecular teacher. Her practices have meaningfully enhanced the success of her consulting business.

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