Don’t chase the clouds: Find your zen and empower a mindful team

Div Manickam
May 26, 2020 · 4 min read

Talent growth and retention are key aspects of any leader. We all strive to grow our teams, but how do we best handle scaling up and scaling down as business needs shift? This is something we can learn only by experience, and in times of uncertainty, these decisions become more critical than ever.

We have all been there, moving from one project to another, trying to build and grow into the next role in our career trajectory. We may find ourselves thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. But we shouldn’t be chasing clouds — they will be always moving.

Influence your team’s outcomes.

Most teams are looking to thrive and become high-performing teams, but our decisions as leaders can make or break a team’s growth in an organization. In Jonah Berger’s book, Invisible Influence, he shares his belief that 99% of all decisions are shaped by others. Our peers and environment impact our decisions to either be different or be similar in a group. Our day-to-day decisions as leaders are shaped by invisible forces that may not be controlled by our thoughts and actions.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as we navigate through these invisible forces to be true to ourselves:

What do you live by, and what will you tolerate from your team? What habits do you want to build to create and empower a mindful team? For me, this means a team where each member respects everyone, irrespective of title or role, and where team unity is paramount.

What fights are worth fighting, and when is it time to surrender and rest your case? Are you playing the infinite game or is it survival of the fittest?

Leadership can be lonely at times, especially when you are setting out on an unbeaten path. Having a trusted support system is crucial to your health and well-being.

Make team decisions more collaborative.

Each team’s intention might be to be collaborative and helpful within an organization. But the truth is our decisions are driven by limited knowledge. In the book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman writes about an invisible gorilla that participants fail to see in an experiment. As leaders, we have experienced the same invisible gorilla, which appears often in our day to day, and we don’t see it while we are multitasking.

We tend to focus and navigate between self-protective actions in decision making. We may believe that our intuition is best informed based on the existing scenario, but the true reality is that it may not be. In a world today, where doing more with less and multitasking is the norm, our limited attention span makes it easier to miss the key facts that are right in front of us.

The law of least effort in Kahneman’s book states that we may think as little as possible to accomplish a task. This limited effort can be counterproductive and can lead to wrongful outcomes. It’s upon us as leaders and mentors to help guide our team and make sure we are charting the right path and correcting the wrong when necessary. Our teams cannot be successful if we cannot walk the walk.

Mix your team routines and activities.

I believe it’s important to change our team’s routine at times to break the monotony and get out of the autopilot mode. Sometimes, a one-on-one walk-and-talk with a team member can be more effective than a meeting in a conference room at the office. How many times have we gotten too comfortable with our daily pattern of meetings throughout the day? Even a planned agenda can restrict creativity and momentum.

It’s good to mix things up a bit and try something new to break the loop. Our best thinking often happens when we are walking, breathing in the fresh air and soaking in the sunshine. It can help bring a chain of thought to a conclusion.

Some of our day-to-day activities as a team can be automatic and quick, with little or no effort, like sharing team updates. What if we paused and took some more effort to make those updates relevant for team members so that people didn’t tune in and out of a team meeting? Some of our team activities can be effortful and require slow thinking. These initiatives require team camaraderie and trust that we are all in this together and bringing out the best in each other to build a mindful and high-performing team.

In challenging times or uncertainty, mindful teams can thrive and bring out the best in everyone around them. Let’s all aim to be more mindful in our day-to-day decisions and actions, and help people around us in any small way that we can.

As Sharon Salzberg has wisely said:

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.”

Originally published at

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Div Manickam

Written by

Inspire | Influence | Impact

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +788K followers.

Div Manickam

Written by

Inspire | Influence | Impact

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +788K followers.

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