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Q&A with Sumi Lanneau on Mindful Actions During Uncertain Times

As the pandemic continues to up-end our lives, our work and our sense of normalcy, nonprofit leaders may be asking themselves, how can I take mindful actions to continue to strengthen team relationships and productivity? Sumi Lanneau, Senior Talent Management Consultant with the Department of Human Resource Management for the Commonwealth will share mindful tools utilizing David Dryer’s model of “building a strategic response for the organization” during an upcoming virtual course with the Community Foundation on November 18th.  During this 2-hour skill building workshop, Sumi will weave in experiences of crucial conversation topics, equity, sustainability during difficult times and hands-on group activities using virtual technology.

So, what is mindfulness and how does this relate to productive nonprofit leadership?  We recently spoke with Sumi to get more insight on the importance and impact mindfulness has on your ability to lead a team.

Why is building the skill of mindfulness important, especially during uncertain times? Mindfulness is important during difficult times to maintain and manage our stress levels, allow focus to be given to what is most important and help with awareness of our thoughts and feelings without judgement. During the pandemic, job uncertainty, social justice issues and now government uncertainty — this is a lot to manage along with our daily routines.

How do your mindful actions relate to your team’s productivity as a nonprofit leader? Mindfulness has a direct impact on the productivity of the team, if a leader is unaware of their tone, body language and mannerisms as a leader — that energy transfers to the team. It’s even more important for a manager to have techniques of mindfulness for themselves to be able to lead effectively; and when stressful situations arise for the team, to practice and teach mindfulness to staff.

Why did you become interested in this topic and how has it helped you? I became interested in this topic because I am an over-analyzer and my mind can get more creative than necessary. With mindfulness techniques, I first acknowledge the feelings and can then decide how to focus on the work process at hand, putting aside the issue distracting me.  Becoming mindful allows you to address the issue, even if temporarily, and put it aside to accomplish what is of highest priority.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get started in building this skill? The first step to mindfulness is choosing to pay attention to the present moment in a curious and non-judgmental way. This begins with small steps and there is no right or wrong. There are so many distractions and an endless flow of information, but recognizing the need to be intentional is the first step in building this skill.

If you want to learn more, make sure to sign up in the Learning Center for Sumi’s course “Mindful Actions During Uncertain Times” on November 18th from 1pm to 3pm – it’s only $20 and will be offered virtually.

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