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The Mindful Leadership Paradox: How Being Soft Can Make You Strong

August 21, 2023

By: Keather Snyder

Raise your hand if you remember the iconic tagline "Softer Side of Sears," or let's start with, raise your hand if you even remember Sears Department Store. Now that I have dated myself, let's get into why I embarked on this path and the concept of the softer side of leading, also known as Mindful Leadership. The role of a leader is challenging, and while it brings numerous rewards, there are some tough aspects that can create layers that harden over time like a callous. Mindful Leadership can break through those layers or, better yet, prevent them from forming in the first place.

Mindful Leadership goes beyond focusing solely on success and holding people accountable; it puts a strong emphasis on empathy, connection, and compassion. It involves leading with your heart, nurturing authentic relationships, and making a beneficial impact on the lives of others. This transformative approach moves individuals to realize their full potential while promoting kindness and understanding. When people can see and, more importantly, feel that you legitimately care about them, the benefits will come back to you tenfold. And when I say benefits, I am not just talking about profits and production but the relationship between you and the employee as well as the group.

I know the word “synergy” is overused, but it does perfectly encapsulate what happens when you are a mindful leader. Here are 4 ways to get you started.

1. Genuine Guidance

Mindful leaders understand the importance of empathy and compassion in their interactions with their team. Your people want to work where they feel safe, valued, respected, and included. A safe place does not just refer to the physical space, although that is important too. In this context, we are talking about emotional and/or psychological safety. The quickest way to do this is to treat mistakes like a baseball game, #GoRays. When a batter misses the first or even second pitch, they don't get benched; they are given another chance. And don't think this is all about the batter. If the pitcher (i.e., you) didn't throw the ball legally the first time or even the third time, you don't get benched either. Your people are not perfect, and neither are you, so everyone deserves grace and a chance to improve. Coaching them starts with actively listening and coming up with "done wells" and identifying areas of improvement for next time. Click here to access Omnia’s coaching guide.

2. Connect with Connections

Mindful Leadership urges you to go beyond the traditional hierarchy and connect with your people on a deeper level. Facilitate open communication, active collaboration, and idea-sharing to break down barriers and create a culture of shared purpose and mutual support. Although you always want to be aware of appropriate boundaries because you don’t want to be known as the “busy body” of the office who is always in everyone’s business, developing strong relationships is essential for fostering camaraderie and unity. When your personnel feel connected to you and their colleagues, their engagement, motivation, and productivity will skyrocket.

3. Walk the Talk

Your actions as a leader carry significant influence, often more than your words alone. When you lead by example, you embody the values, behaviors, and work ethic that you expect from your team. This consistency establishes credibility and sets a standard for excellence. By modeling the behavior you desire, you create a culture of accountability and integrity. This pushes others to show up as their best selves, creates good juju, and encourages each person to contribute to the collective success.

4. Purpose and Passion

One of the most remarkable aspects of Mindful Leadership is its focus on making a positive impact, both within the company and in the broader community. Recognize that your role extends beyond business goals and profits. In the face of global challenges and societal changes, you, as a leader, must also be mindful of the broader impact of your actions. You have the opportunity to leverage your position of influence to address social and environmental issues, promote sustainable practices, and foster ethical decision-making.

Actively seek ways to contribute to society as well as champion social responsibility initiatives and causes that align with your values. Lead with purpose and inspire your team to make a difference as well. Implement corporate social responsibility programs, engage in community service, or establish partnerships with nonprofits. Also, provide your employees with opportunities to give back. This approach strengthens the bonds within your organization and builds a sense of pride and fulfillment. The Omnia Group practices this as we recently had a volunteer day and worked with Habitat for Humanity.

A leader that recognizes and acknowledges the efforts and achievements of their team will make them feel appreciated and energized. This will also make those inevitable difficult conversations we as leaders must have easier because trust has been established.  Plus, your team will not feel like you are coming after them but more so trying to help them.

Lastly, let us redefine leadership as an ever-evolving concept that continuously embraces new perspectives, challenges the status quo, and promotes inclusivity and adaptability. By doing so, you unlock your true potential as a mindful leader and embark on a journey that transcends boundaries, creates meaningful connections, and leaves a lasting impression. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Also read: 

The Mindful Leader's Edge: Introducing the Path to Mindfulness
Accountable Inspiration: Striking the Perfect Leadership Balance for Success
The Leader's Playbook: A Comprehensive Guide from Onboarding to Offboarding
Redefining Leadership: Embracing the Power of Servant Leadership in the Modern Workplace
A Call for Revolutionary Leadership in Today's Context


Keather Snyder

Keather Snyder is President & Chief Operating Officer of The Omnia Group, a leader in helping organizations optimize their talent selection, development and company culture. She is dedicated to helping organizations drive results through the power of their people. Keather is also hugely passionate about developing our future generation of leaders and dedicates personal time to mentoring college age and early career professionals.

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