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Mindful Leadership:

Nurturing Growth, Communication, and Conflict Resolution
Newsha Taheri

Operation Program Manager, Meta

Practice centering before jumping to your next meeting:

Breath Practice: Take three breaths in the middle of meetings or during transition times.

Transition Practice: Go for a short walk between meetings, sip water, or stretch.

Setting an intention before interacting: What is the ideal outcome? How do I want to show up? You have control over how you present yourself to others.

How to start your meeting as a manager:

Begin by checking in: Starting a meeting typically involves taking a few moments to connect with the other participants before jumping into the agenda or discussion. This can involve asking how everyone is doing, sharing updates or news, or engaging in some small talk to help build rapport and create a more positive and inclusive atmosphere.

Benefits of checking in:

  • You can set a positive tone for the discussion.
  • You can create a sense of community and shared purpose.
  • It helps build stronger relationships and trust between team members.
  • It provides an opportunity to address any distractions before starting the meeting.

Inquiry as a leadership skill:

What is an inquiry?

Inquiry is the act of asking questions to gain information that we do not have.

How many types of questions do we have?

There are two types of questions:

  • Closed questions: These questions have a yes or no answer and are not useful for gaining information.
  • Open questions or open inquiry: These questions help leaders discover new information. They are more complex and can help with problem-solving. When using open questions, it is important, to be honest, and notice how the questions either expand or limit the possibilities for the person. 

Words to use for open questions:

What, How, Where, When.


What are your thoughts on the current situation we have? 

What stopped you from prioritizing this task?

How can I help you to finish this task?

Words to avoid:

Why - this word can evoke a defensive response.

Example: Why haven’t you finished this task? 

What is psychological safety at the workplace: 

Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Business School professor, identified five key components of psychological safety in the workplace.

  1. Respect: This involves valuing others' opinions, ideas, and contributions, which encourages them to share their thoughts and ideas freely
  2. Trust: Trust enables individuals to speak up and share their opinions when they trust that their colleagues have their best interests in mind.
  3. Shared accountability: Everyone shares accountability for success and failure. Leaders can promote this by emphasizing feedback, learning, and avoiding blame.
  4. Encouraging experimentation: Employees should experiment and try new things. Leaders can support this by providing resources, celebrating failures as learning opportunities, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
  5. Continuous learning: Encourages continuous learning and growth. Leaders can promote this by providing professional development opportunities, coaching, regular feedback, and performance reviews.

These five components work together to create an environment where people feel comfortable taking risks, speaking up, and contributing to the team's success.

Navigate Conflict at Work:

Techniques offered by Douglas Stone to navigate difficult conversations:

  • Approach the conversation with an open mind and a willingness to listen to the other person's perspective.
  • Separate the people from the problem and focus on the problem at hand.
  • Reframe the conversation by looking at it from a different perspective.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage others to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Listen actively and empathetically to the other person's perspective.
  • Acknowledge the other person's feelings and concerns.
  • Avoid blaming or attacking the other person and instead focus on finding common ground and seeking mutual understanding.
  • Take a break if the conversation becomes too heated or overwhelming, and return to it when you feel calmer.

 How to communicate effectively in difficult conversations:

Douglas Stone discusses the importance of using a combination of I,” "we," and "it" language to communicate effectively in difficult conversations.

 Here's a brief explanation of each level:

  • Use "I" language to express personal thoughts and feelings instead of blaming others. For example, say, "I feel frustrated when interrupted," instead of, "You always interrupt me."
  • "We" language acknowledges the other person's perspective and seeks common ground, such as "Can we work together to find a solution since we both care about this issue?"
  • Use "It" language to focus on the problem, not individuals. For instance, say, "Let's discuss how we can address the issue at hand," rather than blaming each other.

 Leader as Coach: 

What does it mean for a leader to embody the role of a coach?

 Fundamental components that should be incorporated:

  1. Active Listening: Being fully present and attentive to the employee's thoughts and concerns.
  2. Inquiry-based Approach: Rather than simply telling or fixing using questioning techniques to encourage self-reflection, critical thinking, and finding solutions.
  3. Mirroring: Reflecting back to the person to validate their feelings and perspectives, fostering a supportive environment.

What distinguishes being a coach as a leader from being a coach in a dedicated coaching role?

  • Coach as a Coach: Creates a safe and supportive space for individuals to explore their identity, values, and well-being. The ultimate goal is personal growth and fulfillment, aligned with the individual's aspirations and goals.
  • Leader as a Coach: Takes on the role of a coach while considering the goals and objectives of the organization. Prioritizes the growth of individuals, aiming to facilitate positive change aligned with both individual aspirations and organizational goals.

What are the advantages of leaders adopting a coaching approach?

  • Building a company or fostering the growth of individuals involves facing numerous unanswered questions and facilitating meaningful interactions. To cultivate organizational growth, it is crucial to navigate through uncertainty. In times of uncertainty, coaching emerges as one of the most valuable skills. It enables individuals to identify what is known and unknown, empowering them to explore diverse pathways for navigating uncharted territory. By embracing a coaching mindset, leaders effectively guide their teams through complexity, allowing them to adapt, thrive, and confidently navigate the ever-changing landscape of challenges."

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