Navigating Digital Transformation: The Critical Role of Mindful Communication

by | Jan 5, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

The ego is not our amigo

In the fast-paced world of digital transformation, clear, effective communication is crucial. Yet, many organisations face hurdles not born out of a lack of technical skills or resources, but because of a fundamental flaw in human communication style. In my book, The Mindful Communicator, I examine how professional people can learn to shift from ego-led to soul-led, mindful communication.

This article suggests that such a shift is not just beneficial but essential for successful digital transformation.

I was speaking with a senior digital transformation leader recently (lets call her Bonnie); her frustrations with some of the people she was working with were clear. As a practioner in the principles of The Mindful Communicator, her view was that ego-led communication was one big challenge in the teams she was leading. This is the kind of communication often characterised by a subtle or not so subtle pursuit of personal success and even a ‘fake it till you make it’ attitude. She spoke about people who do the training (e.g. Scrum Master) and then think they now know all there is to know, when in truth they are lacking some pivotal human skills.

Grounded in lack of real self worth, having too many people in this mode running around feeding their ego needs can lead to misaligned goals, lack of clarity and fragmented team dynamics. In digital transformation projects, collaboration and clarity are paramount, and such communication styles can be particularly detrimental. People who are not centred in their deeper selves often get hooked on showcasing their ‘expertise’ rather than developing a genuinely agile and adaptable team environment, which in Bonnie’s view, in turn stifles innovation and encourages a culture of superficiality. The cultures that arise from these behaviours can be profoundly unsatisfying to work in, which can lead to disengagement and attrition, delays and increased cost.

In the business world, the pitfalls of ego-led communication would be typified with the story of leaders like Tom:

Tom’s story

Tom was always projecting confidence about his knowledge of cutting-edge technologies and methodologies, even though his understanding was quite superficial beyond what he’d learnt in training. His understanding of people lagged way behind. His team consisted of skilled professionals, but in meetings, he often subtly dominated conversations, emphasising his achievements, knowledge and ideas, while inadvertently dismissing or overlooking the suggestions of his team members. His focus was more on being seen as an expert leader within the company rather than genuinely engaging with the project’s objectives, the team’s input and how to best engage their strengths.  Feeling undervalued and unheard, people started losing motivation. The lack of clear, inclusive communication resulted in people operating with different intentions, as different team members had different understandings of the project’s direction and priorities. Key tasks were either duplicated or overlooked, communications became fraught and the project soon started falling behind schedule.

In one instance, Tom glanced over a team member’s warning about a potential technical issue, claiming he knew better and pushed his own solution. When the issue later surfaced, causing significant delays, it became evident that Tom’s lack of real knowledge and his ego-centric decisions had ultimately cost the team. It was a painful realisation for Tom and a wake-up call for the company, who realised the importance of genuine, mindful communication and the dangers of allowing more shallow attitudes to drive crucial business initiatives.

A more mindul communicator?

Contrast Tom’s story with soul-led, mindful communication, as demonstrated by professional people like Sally, who underwent our transformative coaching programme based on “The Mindful Communicator,” last summer. This programme was designed to help people learn to raise the frequency of different personal characteristics: championing presence, purpose, and authenticity. Sally’s journey illustrates the profound impact of this communication style. She notes in her own words, “Being fully present has helped me to really focus on exactly what is being said,” Essentially, such a practice when deployed across an organisation can enhance clarity and effectiveness in team communication. This approach is supported by Gallup’s research which compared companies from the highest and lowest quartiles of engagement levels. A key difference that Gallup found between segments was the effective use of communications strategies implemented by the top companies. The study showed that the companies with high engagement see:

  • 17% higher productivity
  • 20% higher sales
  • 21% higher profitability

Meet Sally

Mindful communication at the personal and team level involves being fully present in interactions, understanding one’s deeper self, and communicating with clarity and intention. In the hyper-communicated digitally-powered world we live in, developing this quality takes some practice. This style not only makes people more effective but also acts as a catalyst for meaningful change. Leaders and their teams can create environments where more ideas thrive, and diversity is fully embraced, with all the benefits that go with it. In digital transformation, this means building teams that are technically adept and emotionally intelligent, capable of navigating the more complex, nuanced and intangible human dimensions of change.

Sally’s experience in her coaching programme highlights the business benefits of increased employee engagement, improved leadership effectiveness, reduced stress and wellbeing, enhanced problem-solving skills, and cultivating a collaborative culture. For example she reports that her focus on cultivating mindful interactions and developing higher emotional intelligence has led to an increase in morale and a stronger sense of unity in her team; two very powerful drivers of performance.

More than a single solution

Adopting mindful communication in digital transformation involves a number of steps such as being clear and structured in communication, cultivating mindful and empathic interactions, focusing on creating real value, embracing continuous learning, and developing resilience and adaptability. Sally says, “I now take a minute to think of the situation, take a breath, reframe,“. Many companies have gone for meditation and mindfulness training and/or apps to provide this. There is evidence appearing that stand alone, breath-based mindfulness programmes may not always create benefits, and even the reverse, especially if there is no focus on cultivating human relations with others based on positive emotions. Overly simplistic approaches to mindfulness development may actually be counter-productive (see Harvard Business Review 2022).

All seven principles of The Mindful Communicator need to be practiced as a whole and situationally to see the business benefits.

In conclusion, the adoption of these principles, as exemplified by Sally’s real experience and supported by various research studies, is vital in the era of digital transformation. Embracing these principles can help businesses to navigate digital complexities more effectively, creating a culture of authenticity, empathy, and purpose-driven leadership, ultimately paving the way for greater innovation and sustainable growth.

Cover of the Mindful Communicator bookYou can purchase a copy of the book for yourself, your team and your entire organisation here: The Mindful Communicator.

Get in touch now if you’d like to chat about how The Mindful Communicator Coaching Programme can help you cultivate a more emotionally intelligent, collaborative, and adaptable workforce; which can lead to uplifts in organisational effectiveness and innovation.