The more mindful the leader, the lower the employee’s emotional exhaustion.

According to Hooria Jazaieri, in the article  Can Mindful Managers Make Happier Employees in two studies published in the journal Mindfulness, researchers sought to examine the effect of supervisors’ mindful traits on various aspects of employee well-being and performance.

Ninety-six supervisors and their subordinates from a variety of industries took part in the first study. In addition to measuring the level of mindfulness in the supervisor, this first study examined their employees’ emotional exhaustion, work-life balance, and overall job performance, among other measures.

The researchers confirmed their hypothesis: the more mindful the leader, the lower the employee’s emotional exhaustion. More leader mindfulness was also associated with better work-life balance for the employee and better overall job performance ratings of the employee.

Although further replications with more diverse samples are needed, the results from this study suggest that the quality of attention and awareness that a leader possesses may actually have a direct impact on those she or he supervises. The results of this study also fit well within the broader mindfulness literature suggesting that mindfulness improves social relationships, communication, and empathic concern towards others.

What can you do to practice mindfullness at work? I suggest using  Mindfulness and Mastery in the Workplace:  21 Ways to Reduce Stress during the Workday by Saki F. Santorelli.

  1. Take 5-30 minutes in the morning to be quiet and meditate – sit or lie down and be with yourself… gaze out the window, listen to the sounds of nature or take a slow quiet walk.
  2. While your car is warming up – try taking a minute to quietly pay attention to your breathing.
  3. While driving, become aware of body tension, e.g. hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, shoulders raised, stomach tight, etc. consciously working at releasing, dissolving that tension… Does being tense help you to drive better? What does it feel like to relax and drive?
  4. Decide not to play the radio and be with yourself.
  5. On the interstate, experiment with riding in the right lane, going 5 miles below the speed limit.
  6. Pay attention to your breathing and to the sky…. trees, or quality of your mind when stopped at a red light or toll plaza.
  7. Take a moment to orient yourself to your workday once you park your car at the work place. Use the walk across the parking lot to step into your life. To know where you are and where you are going.
  8. While sitting at your desk, keyboard, etc., pay attention to bodily sensations again consciously attempting to relax and rid yourself on excess tension.
  9. Use your breaks to truly relax rather than simply “pausing.” For instance, instead of having coffee, a cigarette or reading, try taking a short walk – or sitting at your desk and renewing yourself.
  10. 10. At lunch, changing your environment can be helpful.
  11. Try closing your door (if you have one) and take some time to consciously relax.
  12. Decide to “STOP” for 1-3 minutes every hour during the workday. Become aware of your breathing and bodily sensations, allowing the mind to settle in as a time to regroup and recoup.
  13. Use the everyday cues in your environment as reminders to “center” yourself, e.g. the telephone ringing, sitting at the computer terminal, etc.
  14. Take some time at lunch or other moments in the day to speak with close associates. Try choosing topics that are not necessarily work related.
  15. Choose to eat one or two lunches per week in silence. Use this as a time to eat slowly and be with yourself.
  16. At the end of the workday, try retracing today’s activities acknowledging and congratulating yourself for what you’ve accomplished and then make a list for tomorrow. You’ve done enough today!
  17.  Pay attention to the short walk to your car – breathing the crisp or warm air. Feel the cold or warmth of your body. What might happen if you opened to and accepted these environmental conditions and bodily sensations rather than resisting them? Listen to the sounds outside your work place. Can you walk without feeling rushed? What happens when you slow down?
  18.  At the end of the workday, while your car is warming-up, sit quietly and consciously make the transition from work to home – take a moment to simply be – enjoy it for a moment. Like most of us, you’re heading into your next full-time job – home!
  19. While driving, notice if you are rushing. What does this feel like? What could you do about it? Remember, you’ve got more control than you might imagine.
  20. When you pull into the driveway or park on the street, take a minute to orient yourself to being with your family members or to entering your home.
  21. Try changing out of work clothes when you get home. This simple act might help you to make a smoother transition into your next “role” – much of the time you can probably “spare” 5 minutes to do this. Say hello to each of you family members or to the people you live with. Take a moment to look in their eyes. If possible, make the time to take 5-10 minutes to be quiet and still. If you live alone, feel what it is to enter the quietness of your home, the feeling of entering your own environment.

Mindfulness and Mastery in the Workplace: 21 Ways to Reduce Stress during the Workday. Saki F.
Santorelli, Engaged Buddhist Reader, 1996 Parallax Press.

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