This one technique has helped countless leaders to create FOCUS in their team

This strategy might be what you need to go from a good leader into a GREAT leader without the shiny new toys…

 

The pressure to perform as a leader never stops and neither does the endless amount of distractions and information coming at us every day… Infobesity, stress and overwhelm are becoming more commonplace than ever. Our workplaces are complex, agile and ambiguous.

Focus_SmallCartoonIn the last year, I have worked with countless leaders and teams who were having trouble with productivity and problem solving in their complex work environments. There were problems that despite the team’s effort, just couldn’t be solved efficiently. The teams were so distracted and overwhelmed that when leaders tried normal tactics like incentive based rewards, commissions for performance – they simply didn’t work. It was time for something different.

Problems in the typical modern workplace problems are complex and need to demonstrate insightfulness (out of the box thinking). They can’t be solved in a series of logical steps using critical thinking. Our brains are too clouded in the stress-based, thinking mind to see the logical steps required to reach a decision or solution. Today’s workplace really is interesting – almost paradoxical. We need to see the complex world in an insightful, clear way however these complexities that we face lead our brain to be fragmented and stressed. We become clouded and can’t see how to solve problems.

 

Let’s take a quick moment for me to share a personal story with you. When I was looking for topics to do my Masters (for Psychology) on, I wanted to look into Mindfulness in the Workplace. I was really interested to see what kind of impact it would have and if it would help lower stress levels. When I took this idea to my Supervisor, she practically laughed at me… not kidding! Turns out that (showing my age here…) 20 years ago, Mindfulness was not considered a ‘real’ topic. Well, plan B it was then. Fast-forward to last year… I had been working for many years in all sorts of organisations and workplaces and had implemented small mindfulness techniques in my workshops and coaching sessions. It had been long enough now that I knew that mindfulness definitely had a positive impact on all of those I’d introduced it to. So, I looked into what research was out there and came across the Institute of Neuroscience (based in America) and I ended up doing my certificate on Neuroleadership with them. In that course, they reiterated just how important practices like Mindfulness are in a modern-day world where we have so many distractions with information coming at us all the time.

 

NeuralPathways_smlSo, you can see that I am passionate about Mindfulness and the positive effects it has on the brain. The word Mindfulness is often associated with meditation and definitely does not immediately come to mind as a new, cutting edge leadership technique. But I need you to trust me here… don’t be too quick to dismiss Mindfulness. It is a methodology supported by science and its application has far reaching benefits for everyone – particularly leaders. Mindfulness is defined as paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, non-judgementally in the present moment. In fact, I call Mindfulness “Attention Training”. Training your brain to focus, overcome distractions and create space for insightful thinking to problem solve effectively. However, it is more than this. Practicing mindfulness techniques can actually change the structure of our brains through neuroplasticity, so we can adapt to and cope with our modern world. While Infobesity automatically triggers the stress response in the brain, the mindful approach is a powerful way to create focus and reduce fragmented thinking, when it is practiced and included as part of daily routines.

 

The reason why Mindfulness is particularly powerful for leaders is its ability to change our brains way of thinking to enhance problem solving skills. By creating the space and focus in your own and your team’s brains – it allows for your mind to become what I call a ‘working mind’ (stress leads to a ‘thinking mind’ which hinders decision making skills. Read more about that here.) A working mind allows us to think insightfully – the most effective method for resolving the creative problems of the complex modern workplace. This basically means instead of using the safe ‘logical’ way of thinking, insightful thinking means we can think outside the box to come up with all sorts of solutions to complex problems – both realistic and unrealistic. Being able to practice mindfulness techniques to harness the insightful thinking part of your brain is what really sets a good leader apart from a GREAT leader. (Not just how many new shiny toys they put in the office!) The ability to problem solve in both a logical and insightful ways gives an extra layer of skill that is a desirable trait in those always looking to improve their leadership.

 

If after reading this, you still feel like you and your team aren’t ready to give Mindfulness a try, then keep an eye out for Part 2 where I’m going to tell you about the CEO of one of our clients and how he used another strategy to think differently in his leadership!

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