Managing teams has always been stressful, but since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders are being challenged by an increasingly unpredictable social and political climate. With teams working from home, leaders must now be mindful of any threats the virus may pose to their employees’ mental wellbeing, from anxiety, isolation, depression and more.
Leading with empathy and mindfulness can help leaders improve communication and create an environment that fosters team harmony, belonging and growth. Here are 5 ways entrepreneurs can use mindfulness to lead teams in uncertain times brought to us by certified mindfulness teacher and founder of Marmalade + Kindness Adamantia Velonis.
Mindful leaders bring non-judgmental, open awareness to interactions with their employees so that they can be fully present. This helps them spot the signs early when their employees are overwhelmed or stressed, rather than reacting or becoming frustrated after the fact when their performance suffers.
Lead with empathy
When you recognise that others are stressed, connect with them one-to-one and ask how they are doing. Everyone is unique and will require individual support, so make sure you practice active listening and use your words intentionally.
Culture is set from the top. Sending emails late at night or without reading them for tone is a recipe for anxiety and misunderstanding. Multitasking while on Zoom calls? Another way communication can be misconstrued. Eliminate distractions during meetings so you are fully present and create healthy boundaries for work. Others will get the hint!
With life becoming increasingly ‘virtual’ it’s important for employees to feel grounded and connected. Encourage your team to commit to one physical self-care activity a day – from walking to cooking, gardening or journaling – a small act can help put things into perspective and promote clearer thinking.
Look after yourself
It’s hard to look after others if you’re not looking after yourself. Set aside a regular time for mindfulness or meditation practice. With the current business climate moving so fast, it can feel self-indulgent to stop ‘doing’ and spend time ‘being.’ But creating opportunities to pause and acknowledge your feelings is crucial to optimal decision making and creativity.
Many leaders are struggling to create an environment of safety and empathy for employees. But by putting mindfulness into action, entrepreneurs can meaningfully connect with their employees to build resilience in uncertain times.