I was fortunate enough to attend an event hosted by Professional Liverpool where the amazing Nicola Forshaw from Mindfit spoke about mindful leadership. I think it’s safe to say everyone who attended the event came away refreshed and energised.

Nicola started off by explaining we live in a VUCA world. VUCA describes today’s world perfectly – it stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. VUCA is one way to describe today’s business world. As a consequence of this, we are busy, tired, overloaded and distracted – as a single parent and self-employed HR consultant, this certainly resonates with me, as this is more or less my state 24/7.

Nicola went on to explain that mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to your thoughts, emotions and body sensations in the present moment non-judgmentally and with compassion. When we do this, it allows us to create some space in the mind to respond skilfully rather than habitually, which can lead to us making wiser decisions. Mindfulness is a way of being that can help us to build up emotional intelligence skills such as resilience, focus and compassion for our self and others. The only thing we have is the present –generally in the present we are ok, but worrying about either the future or the past, and we can teach our mind to let go of these thoughts and simply observe them – the main thing is that now we are ok. Nicola also led us through breathing exercises to centre ourselves and be conscious of ourselves and the moment, techniques I will definitely be adopting.

As human being, we swing between three systems to manage our emotions, and each emotion is associated with different brain chemistry and different brain regions. The three systems are:

  • Drive system, which releases dopamine and is associate with wanting, pursing, achieving and progressing
  • Threat system, which releases adrenaline and cortisol, and is associated with anger, anxiety and disgust
  • Soothing system, which releases oxytocin and is associated with feelings of contentment, safety and trust

I operate mostly between drive and threat and will be aiming to put into practice some of the exercises Nicola suggested, to be in soothing mode more frequently, as I can see how it would benefit my life and my businesses.

As I advise small business owners on their HR needs, my aim is attending the event was to pick up some useful tips I could pass on to them, and I did – the three key traits of a mindful leader are resilience, collaboration and complexity, and the characteristics of mindful leadership are leadership, presence, clarity, focus and compassion. Some of the world’s most successful, forward thinking companies, like Apple, KMPG, Astra Zeneca and Google are providing mindfulness training for their workforce in order to drive sustainability and happiness. In fact, it is becoming the centre of Google’s internal staff training policy, believing that IQ alone doesn’t cut it anymore, and employees must have emotional intelligence in abundance if they (and the company) want to keep up with the demands of the 21st century.

I will certainly be adopting these practices going forward and encouraging my clients to do so. If you are currently struggling with any aspects of leadership, please get in touch – we can help.