Large companies, such as Google, Aetna and General Mills, have been implementing large-scale mindfulness programs over the past few years.

Thousands of employees have gone through their programs with data now showing that there is a definite impact on leadership skills by practicing mindfulness, such as:

• Increase in productivity
• Increase in decision-making
• Increase in listening
• Reduction in stress levels

How Can Companies Begin to Invest in Mindfulness?

At an organizational level, it must be built into the culture and daily work flows of the company.

Leaders need to create the space to allow for mindfulness. People will do what you give them time and incentivize them to do.

For example, if your goal in a meeting is to come up with creative solutions to a problem, people will do their best to come up with ideas. But you must put them in a state of mind to do that. If you’re simply brain serving and knocking the ideas out as quickly as they can come up with them and then saying they’re not feasible — this approach constrains creativity. The structure is not enabling what you’re asking for.

Research tells us that folks in a more mindful state are more creative and they can integrate things more holistically from a diversity of experiences. They’re less judgmental and more open to new ideas in a state of mindful attention.

How do you get people there?

Don’t start a meeting immediately. As leaders, we strive for efficiency and we think we are very effective with our time. But meetings have been proven to be less effective when they don’t incorporate a moment of mindfulness.

That doesn’t mean starting meetings late. Instead, make that first 5 minutes of the meeting be the most important part.  As the leader, bring everyone together emotionally and intentionally. It can be as simple as a chance to relax. Ask people to let down their shoulders and talk about why they are there.

Stop Running Away

Most people show up at one meeting running from another, lucky to find the time to use the restroom on the way.

Running from place to place at this speed can sometimes feel like like running away from a predator. You’re in a space of compressed time, you’re uncomfortable, and you’re stressed. All of that gets reflected in the way the day unfolds.

Instead, think about how to break up that automatic process that we have become conditioned to.  Because the process of just surviving meeting after meeting after meeting is not sustainable.

Why do we think it’s not okay to take 5 minutes for a personal moment?  There aren’t any negative implications associated with hitting the pause button. We all need a chance to put our shoulders down.

Give people a moment to talk about what’s going on in their lives. Guards must be let down before people can really connect authentically to being there and being present.

And when you do that, all sort of things increase. Engagement increases. Psychological safety increases. Smiles increase. And your ability to integrate information increases.

Practice is a Priority

As with everything in leadership, it’s all easy in concept and very difficult to do. But as leaders, we must take the time to do it. And make it a priority.

Value it. Because you value your people. And you want to put them in positions where instead of running from things, they run towards them with open arms.

There are famous quotes across world cultures. They’re all a variation of stop and smell the rosesYou never know what you had until you lose itFocus on what matters.

It’s all about focusing on the now. Being present allows you to see what’s in front of you.

Author

Christopher Reina

Christopher Reina

Dr. Christopher Reina is the founder of Leading Without Ego, LLC and an assistant professor in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Commonwealth University. He coaches leaders and leads trainings on mindful leadership and how to more effectively navigate the intricacies of the modern work context. His work focuses on the intersection of leadership and mindfulness and how organizations and employees can achieve higher levels of engagement, performance, and well-being.