How Meditation Makes You a Better Leader.
Why the best leaders meditate.
Meditating for a few minutes every day literally re-wires your brain. It makes you more resilient to stress, improve your mood, helps you connect better with others and make better decisions, faster. Meditation has been proven to improve your immune system, your ability to concentrate, and is an effective treatment for reducing anxiety, depression, and pain.
So besides being an almost literal cure-all to many of today’s top lifestyle stressors, how does meditation make you a better leader?
To answer that question, we first have to know what the essential qualities of a good leader are. We started with Forbes article on:
They list the eight essential qualities of the best leaders as: 1. Sincere Enthusiasm, 2. Integrity, 3. Great Communication Skills, 4. Loyalty, 5. Decisiveness, 6. Managerial Competence, 7. Empowerment and finally, 8. Charisma.
Here’s how meditation can help you improve each of these top leadership characteristics.
1. Sincere Enthusiasm.
Meditation can help you identify mental patterns and learn how to mindfully choose your perspective.
Sincere enthusiasm for a project, an idea, or an organization is contagious. The best leaders naturally attract support for their ideas, because of their drive to find solutions. They’re passionate. Upbeat. Their enthusiasm is naturally passed along to team members who want to go above and beyond to find creative solutions that benefit the entire team. Why? Because it feels good and most people want their work to matter.
Finding that internal enthusiasm is easier when you’re in the habit of being mindful about how your mental state impacts not only your productivity, but your team. Constant complaining about all the things that are going wrong, instead of focusing on what’s going right, will drain you of the energy to find solutions and take your team down with you.
Think you can fake it? Employees can easily sense dead-on-the-inside smiles, insincerity, or lack-luster go-get’ems. If you don’t care, why should they?
Enthusiasm to find solutions, not endless criticism of what isn’t working, can be a difficult mental switch for some. The good news is we have the ability to change our mindsets, so if you want to become more optimistic and enthusiastic, you can. Meditation and mindfulness is key.
Meditation helps keep your proverbial punch bowl full, so you can have the fortitude to make the right decisions, even when it’s hard.
Good leaders are willing to give credit where its due and can acknowledge their own mistakes — even when no one is watching. When your willpower is depleted, you’re much more likely to cut-corners, inflate a story, give-in to company gossip, or react, rather than respond, in stressful situations.
3. Great Communication Skills.
Meditation improves your ability to leave space in-between the stimulus of information given and your response.
When people talk about a leader they respect, they often talk about their communication skills. In addition to their ability to tell a compelling story, read the room, or give a great sales pitch, you’ll often hear them say that, “I feel like they really hear me. I feel like they actually consider what I’m saying.”
Good listening skills are essential to good communication. To have good listening skills, you must be able to quiet your own internal chatter without allowing it to trigger other emotions.
Meditation helps us better prepare for unexpected events by helping us maintain perspective. It also helps us keep our ego in check by understanding that most business decisions aren’t personal and we don’t have to carry that mental load.
The idea of loyalty to organizations has changed over time, but the best leaders, recognize two things. #1. Loyalty from employees is not a guarantee and #2. True loyalty is reciprocal. If you want to keep great employees, you have to be willing to have open and honest communication with your team and recognize that helping your employees grow their skill-sets, roles and responsibilities will more likely lead to longer-term commitments. That being said, those investments are not guarantees.
Meditation improves your ability to hit a flow-state of focus when switching in-between tasks.
Most leaders have to rapidly switch their frame of focus between a range of projects, tasks, and decisions. This can lead to decision-fatigue, which is essentially, decisiveness.
Leaders who have a meditation practice can also recognize when their will-power is depleted and have a better capacity to sit with ambiguity, rather than make hasty decisions simply to move a project off their plate. Perpetual stress, can also lead to a sort of tunnel vision. Making it harder to find creative solutions, an essential skill in negotiations, conflict-resolution, and strategic designs making.
Meditation also introduces the idea of ‘beginning again’ without judgement or anger. This concept helps us tune into a new tasks and overcome interruptions with ease.
By implementing a meditation practice, you increase your stress resiliency and are able to think more creatively.
Finally, the best leaders also know that there will be times when they won’t make the right decision and will have to be willing to correct the course, quickly. Those with a regular meditation practice have an improved ability to recognize when they’ve made a mistake (meta-awareness) than those so don’t.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.” - Victor Frankl
6. Managerial Competence.
The best leaders are constantly working to improve themselves as well as organization efficiencies.
Study after study shows how importance of taking care of your mental and physical health - right eating, sleeping, exercise, and creating healthy mental habits is essential to showing up and doing your best work.
Good leaders work smarter, not harder. They take new ideas and put them into practice. They put the extra time and energy in, because they know in the long-run it will be worth it. The same goes with meditation. If you want organizational results, you’ve got to be willing to show-up for yourself, first.
Meditation, especially loving kindness meditations, has been shown to increase levels of communication and trust within organizations.
Good leaders, support their employees by demonstrating mutual trust and respect. If you’re constantly complaining about how you have to do everything yourself, or how ‘nobody can ever do anything right’, you perpetuate that environment. By empowering your employees with the right resources and skillsets research show that you also increase engagement. Better engagement leads to better productivity, more informed decision-making, and better outcomes for everyone.
Meditation helps to keep us grounded in the bigger picture. Helps us live more aligned to our personal values, so we can better show up for others.
Good leaders recognize that our personal and professional lives are intertwined. Work is only a part of an employees identity, and showing sincere interest in the health and happiness of your employees, their families, their interests, and their livelihoods is part of what makes great leaders so charismatic. In order to show sincere interest in others, you have to be able to keep things in perspective.
If you’re depleted or worse yet, burned-out, you’ll have a tough engaging with your co-workers, and a tougher time illustrating any of the other essential characteristics of great leaders.
9. Live Better:
Stress is an inevitable part of our lives. Balancing workloads, deadlines, family-time, household chores, while trying to make healthy-lifestyle choices, and have fun while doing it all can be daunting task - even when we don’t want it to be. Add in a sudden illness, loss of a loved one, unexpected layoff and suddenly that fragile balance can take a steep tumble.
According to the American Psychological Association, 42% of adults say they are not doing enough, or aren’t sure whether they’re doing enough, to manage their stress. A whopping 20% of Americans never even attempt to relieve or manage their stress.
Meditation not only make you a better leader, it also makes you a better friend, partner, and citizen. Taking time to strengthen our resiliency to stress takes about the time it takes to brush our teeth. (Stop doing that for a week and see if anyone notices!) It helps us become more mindful of our thoughts, emotions, and daily consumption habits. It helps us recognize that while stress is inevitable, “It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.”
There are lots of types of meditation, but the best one is the one that you actually do.
Free course on how to start a daily meditation practice, below.