Mindful Mondays: Mindfulness exercises for leaders during uncertain times

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Written by Trisha Bhullar

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Many of us focus on the impact the current pandemic has on employees all around the world. But what about our office leaders? Think bosses, managers and CEOs trying to reschedule company goals, facilitate zoom meetings and manage shrinking budgets. Who’s looking out for them? In this Mindful Monday Edition, we’re exploring mindfulness exercises for leaders to help tide all office leaders through this uncertain time. 


Corporate leadership during uncertain times

We’ve discussed the disruptions and coping methods for remote workers around the world, but it’s time to turn our attention to the additional stress faced by company leaders. With this invisible barrier being forged between leaders and teams, it can be incredibly difficult to forge productive work as efficiently and seamlessly as before. Team morale undoubtedly takes a toll as self-isolation impacts individual mental health and the high-stress pandemic situation lingers in everyone’s minds. It’s more difficult to foster enthusiasm and initiative than ever. The responsibility of alleviating these issues lies solely on corporate leaders. It is, therefore, extremely stressful for corporate leaders to deal with this, on top of their own personal concerns. 

If you’re a corporate leader facing such stresses, you should start considering mindfulness exercises for leaders in uncertain times. 


The benefits of mindfulness exercises for leaders

We’ve discussed plenty about mindfulness, the science behind it and even how to practise mindful leadership at work. Ultimately, mindfulness is a practice to reduce stress, enhance clarity and re-balance one’s thoughts on the present. Its benefits are countless — from improving emotional health to stimulating cognitive performance. What makes it even cooler is that it can be enjoyed by anyone. There’s a good range of mindfulness exercises for leaders, from meditation to deep-breathing exercises, so there’ll definitely be a technique that could appeal to you! 


#1: Mindfulness interval training

This mindfulness exercise for leaders is one that centres on keeping you calm, cool and collected throughout the day. It improves focus and reduces the likelihood of you responding emotionally to unexpected situations in a day. This kind of cool, level-headed thinking will not go unnoticed and could inspire more confidence in your colleagues. 

How this mindfulness exercise for leaders works: Identify three 5-minute intervals in your day. Set an alarm for these intervals. When the time comes, close your eyes and regulate your breathing. Focus on your breathing and slowly quieten your chattering thoughts. Simply think about breathing and nothing else. When the 5 minutes is up, you’ll be calm and refreshed, ready to return to your work with a level-headed mind. 


#2: Meditation to boost compassion

Being compassionate and understanding towards others might have taken a backseat in your leadership style. When the company and your own mental health is at stake, you might forget that your colleagues are going through the same thing. This makes it easy for you to be preoccupied by negative thoughts, resenting others for being unproductive while working from home or simply not being as contributive as they were before. If you allow these negative thoughts to build up, they will undoubtedly influence your actions — whether it’s snapping at someone or displaying annoyance in any other way. While you may not realise it, such bursts of anger will impact your colleagues’ morale and only worsen the entire situation. That’s why practising meditation targeted to boosting compassion could be a great way to improve team cohesiveness during a pandemic. 

How this mindfulness exercise for leaders works: Follow your regular meditation routine, whether that involves sitting on the floor or a bed, eyes closed or eyes open. Allow your mind to wander and simply acknowledge the direction of your thoughts. Are they positive or resentful? Slowly silence these thoughts and focus your thinking on something that makes you happy. It could be your child, a meaningful experience or even a really good brownie you had. Spend a few minutes appreciating those happy thoughts, and continue your work with the same attitude of positivity in mind. 

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#3: Mass Mindfulness

Mindfulness exercises for a leader don’t have to be confined to the leader. In fact, the impact of mindful exercises on a leader could be even more positive when practised with his/her colleagues. This is because on top of the benefits of mindfulness, you’ll get to improve team cohesiveness, team morale and allow the rest of your team to enjoy the same benefits as you. It’s a joint exercise that shows that you care about them and that you’re all in this together. 

How this mindfulness exercise for leaders works: Schedule a Zoom call with your entire team once a day for a joint-meditation session. This could be a guided yoga session lead by you, or a team exercise where everyone practices deep breathing. The format of this technique and the specific exercises used can be totally customised to what your team prefers. 


You’re doing so good!

To all the leaders out there: here’s a huge thank you from Timeqube. It’s more difficult than ever to lead, but the most important time to have great leaders out there. Practice mindfulness exercises for leaders to reduce your stress and improve your emotional health. You deserve it and you should always prioritise it!