May 12, 2016 – Colleen Niese – Insights

Who Has a Longer Attention Span You or a Goldfish?

48412180-003In 2000, Microsoft did a study on adult attention spans and the average span equaled 12 seconds. In 2015, that same study revealed the average dropped to 8 seconds. Goldfish have us beat, clocking in at 9 seconds. Have you ever taken a good look at a goldfish? Enter Mindful Leadership - a relatively "new" discipline that takes authentic leadership to a different level.  I am super pleased to be speaking about this topic at the annual THRIVE conference hosted by BLR (Business and Legal Resources Association) this week because I believe it's relevancy is growing by leaps and bounds.

Mindful Leadership, and its many definitions, really boils down to being present in any given moment so one can gain clarity, open the mind to creativity to then lead others through support and guidance. The mindful leader achieves this formula through self regulation and stress management. If it sounds lofty, and it is, there are many roadmaps, strategies and tools to help any leader achieve mindfulness. On the top of many folks' lists may be meditation, and while being able to clear the head has proven out countless times to be of huge benefit for stress relief and concentration, it is one of many levers to pull to be successful at mindful leadership.

Here's a few simple techniques to start developing a mindful leadership approach:

Be the last one to speak. Some leaders think it's their responsibility to be the most vocal in the room. Maybe, but the circumstances should drive when and what to say. Mindful leaders rely on deep degrees of active listening before they jump into the conversation.

Balance emotion and data.  Mindful leaders dial in constantly on what they know about something vs. how they feel about it to ensure that when it's time to make a decision, information and feelings are in check and they are leading the team with both bits in equal measure.

Speaking of emotions...when a mindful leader struggles with a decision she plays the "why" game to get to the absolute root of the situation to then deal with it, as opposed to procrastinating, changing priorities, really pulling any lever to avoid the issue all together.

Like all leadership disciplines, there is no magic pill to quickly become well versed in mindfulness. However, if you truly believe a leader's greatest responsibility is to serve his/her team by clearly communicating goals, collaborating to meet those objectives and motivate so all meet/beat expectations consistently, then mindful leadership is the perfect approach.