Who is a mindful leader?

For us a mindful leader is one that embraces change and catalyses change mindfully. Their mindfulness manifests at four levels

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  1. Mindful of oneself:

    • They are aware of who they are and act accordingly

    • Their awareness is supported by non-judgement and fully acceptance

    • They know what they care about and the contribution they want to make to others, institutions, communities and/or to the world

  2. Mindful of others:

    • Mindful leaders understand that people’s sense of self is composed of different identities (e.g., personal and social identity)

    • They also understand and accept that those identities have attached norms and values which influence people’s perceptions and behaviours

    • As a consequence of accepting and not judging themselves they are in a much better position to become aware, accept and not judge of others, which has a huge impact on relationships, communication and collaboration

  3. Mindful of the context and group related factors

    • They are aware of the impact of external factors on themselves and others. Those factors range from cultural norms to competing demands

    • They understand the impact of the group dynamics (e.g., group membership: being one of “us” vs. being one of “them”) on their influence on others

  4. Mindful of the big picture “Me, us in here now”

    • They are aware of the interrelation of all the above in the here and now. They know how to tap in the present and future that wants to emerge using some Theory U techniques

The important thing that [leaders or change agents] need to have in mind
and that they need to experience is to be living in the present, letting go of
whatever is not serving them anymore and forgive themselves and others.
In that way they can make the unique contribution in the world

Important note: All the above represents the ideal Mindful Leader. It is not about being or not being a mindful leader. Instead it is about embarking in a journey towards becoming one. And step by step at our own pace we become the mindful leader we want to become.


[15] Adarves-Yorno (2016). Mindful Leadership in African Prisons. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OR71B13TFQ&feature=youtu.be

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