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Most of us are pretty mindless. We forget the names of people we just met. We're so attached to our devices we walk into people and trip over curbs. We all do it. So much of what we need is right in front of us; we just don’t know how to tune in to it. We need to learn to be more mindful.

Our success in the workplace is based on our ability to tune in to our world, to gather information in this moment to be able to make better decisions and choices in the next. If we are tuned out, we miss both the information and the opportunities. Mindfulness is especially critical when it comes to leadership in the workplace. Most of the time we are so busy running in different directions that events and information that could improve our approach, effort and results, fly right by us.

Here are a few of situations through which a mindful leader could create opportunity and results:

  • A good employee is coming in consistently late (let's say it's due to family situation). The employee’s work does not seem to be suffering. A mindful manager would notice the late arrivals and quickly connect with the employee to determine what's happening. This gathers information about the tardiness and creates an opportunity for a supportive and productive response. A mindless manager is unaware of the tardiness because the work isn't affected. Awareness creates opportunity.
  • A mindful manager walks through his department several times a day, connecting in with his employees – not just about their work, but in order to be aware of their energy, focus, state of mind and degree of effort. He watches, asks and listens. This provides great information to determine what kind of feedback to offer employees, to meet them where they are and engage with them.
  • A mindful manager listens intently to a customer who complains about a product or a service. This creates information that she can take back to the team to correct if necessary — or to inspire a new opportunity not previously considered.

We don’t mean to be mindless, but that's where the problem lies. The ideal steps to becoming more mindful are as follows: stop, notice, consider, and choose. What most of us do is react and choose. No longer reacting shifts us for a moment to full thinking. In that moment, we notice and consider information that was previously not in view. Now in view, we have greater opportunity — more choices, more options, and more possibilities. This encourages better decisions.

Managers are applauded for quick, automatic decisions. However, what could inspire better decisions is to become more mindful. Your world will open up and your opportunities will expand. 

Photo: Can Stock