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Four Ways Leaders Can Cultivate Mindful Influence

Leaders aren’t unique in wielding influence; however, having a positive influence can be unique as not all leaders remain mindful of their influence on others.

Leaders oftentimes hear about the need to cultivate “mindfulness,” yet they think of it as adopting a soft or passive approach. Yet, that’s not what occurs with mindfulness. Instead, mindfulness allows you to better understand your influence, and what is influencing you, so that you may have a more positive influence on others.

Photo: Brian Smith, Ph.D., Founder and Senior Managing Partner at IA Business Advisors | Courtesy Photo
Photo: Brian Smith, Ph.D., Founder and Senior Managing Partner at IA Business Advisors | Courtesy Photo

Leaders aren’t unique in wielding influence; however, having a positive influence can be unique as not all leaders remain mindful of their influence on others. Success comes when leaders influence themselves and others in a way that encourages others to be mindful of ensuring their own positive influence.

The key is to be present when conveying your message contextually to all who may be influenced by it. Being present is the same as being mindful because to be mindful you must be present.

To help in remaining present and sharing your influence mindfully, leverage these four practices.


1. Communicate effectively

Communication is much more than just speaking and listening. You can communicate the opposite of what you say verbally just through your body language or your actions. Don’t be a “do as I say, not as I do” leader because that will eventually fail.

Some believe listening is just looking as though you’re paying attention, but you must listen to learn by being present with the other person. A common saying is that we were given two eyes and two ears but only a single mouth because there’s power in observation (listening). When we actively listen, we become present, and when we become present, we become mindful.


2. Pause before reacting

When you begin to observe and listen more, you will be challenged by the impulse to react to things that you don’t agree with. But work to make yourself pause before you react. It takes a certain amount of willpower to overcome the impulse to react. Yet when you do, you will remain present (mindful) and are better able to react. Let the pause become your friend as your calm reaction will set a good example for your team.


3. Hold yourself and others accountable

Accountability shouldn’t be about assigning blame or determining punishment. Holding yourself and others accountable entails communicating about where and how carrying out the established goal fell short.

For example, if someone misses a deadline, don’t choose to either accept it or yell about it. Engage the person in a discussion to understand the root cause of the problem. By walking through the process of dissecting what went wrong and making clear the ramifications of how the failure influences others, such mutual understanding will ensure their accountability in the future.


4. Strive to be S.M.A.R.T. in all you plan and do

S.M.A.R.T. Goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. However, we’ve developed our own program called S.M.A.R.T. Management and it’s the foundation for which we build effective leadership and communication.

If you can be specific in your communication and actions and provide the information needed to measure and identify attainability, then you can understand if your leadership directives are realistic and timely.

To employ S.M.A.R.T. Management, one must communicate effectively and be present (mindful). When we offer up S.M.A.R.T. goals and support those with S.M.A.R.T. actions and tactics, we build a leadership environment that can easily be supported and held accountable. In such an environment everyone is clear on the specifics, knows how they’re measured, has agreed to the realistic results expected for attainment, and agrees to the timeline.


Once leaders grow in their ability to remain present and mindful, they will be able to more positively influence those around them. With the ability to harness this power, they will realize success beyond their imagination.


Brian Smith, Ph.D., is the founder and senior managing partner of IA Business Advisors, a management consulting firm that has worked with more than 19,000 CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers, and employees worldwide. Together with his daughter, Mary Griffin, he has authored his latest book in the “I” in Team series, Positive Influence – Be the “I” in Team (Made for Success Publishing, April 4, 2023), which shares how to become our best self with everyone we influence. Learn more at IABusinessAdvisors.com/the-i-in-team-series


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