I am sick of reading articles criticizing workplace mindfulness as a soft skill (aka new-agey, woo-woo, nice to have, but not essential…). So let me set the record straight…

Workplace mindfulness is not sitting around meditating and singing kumbaya.

It’s not being sickly nice, overlooking poor performance, and it’s definitely not just a calming and concentration exercise.

Most importantly, it should not be a subtle way for leaders and managers to blame their people for burning out or not coping.

That said, it can be used that way. I get calls all the time from leaders wanting me to run ‘mindfulness sessions’ because their people are stressed to the max.

It’s like I can go in, wave a magic wand, and get everyone to focus on their breath for 5 minutes, and voila! The stress has gone.

I wish…

No! Mindfulness in the workplace is so much more than that.

As a leader, you have to take responsibility for the culture you’ve built which creates the conditions for stress and burnout to thrive.

Yes, you’re very much responsible.

Then, you’ve got to take a multi-faceted approach, which includes taking ownership of sanctioned workplace practices and rituals that are not okay – like allowing other people to take over your calendar, booking another back-to-back meeting, expecting people to take work home, and to be available 24/7.

Our action-addicted, always-on cultures won’t magically correct themselves.

Yes, I do teach people how to manage their minds and build a resilient mindset. That’s vital for responding well, especially under pressure.

But real change will only happen when leaders take responsibility for unhealthy cultures and stop blaming their people and denying the role they play.

Let me leave you with a statistic.

Around 32% of a person’s mental well-being can be explained by their leader’s behaviour. So, when it comes to stress and burnout at work, leaving the leader’s behaviour off the table – is not just short-sighted – it’s ludicrous.

As we head into Mental Health Awareness Week, and I start running sessions for businesses, you can be dam sure, I won’t be leaving that part out.

If you’d like me to run a virtual session for your people go here for more information.