Volume 8: 2015 Abstract: McGhee and Grant

Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management

The influence of managers’ spiritual mindfulness on ethical behaviour in organisations

Peter McGhee and Patricia Grant

Recently, there have been several corporate scandals both in New Zealand and overseas involving unethical management behaviour that caused significant harm to a range of stakeholders. The literature on spirituality and mindfulness posits that each could enhance ethical praxis and management conduct if they were encouraged in organisations. To date, minimal work has been completed bringing these related constructs together and demonstrating how and why they might influence ethical decision-making and behaviour positively. This paper attempts such a combination. As part of a larger study, 14 managers from a variety of organisations were interviewed to determine how their spirituality influenced their ethical behaviour in the workplace. Using stories of real-life critical incidents and thematic analysis, this research found that managers bring a spiritual consciousness that is mindful of themselves, others and their context to their decisions and actions in complex and challenging ethical situations. Moreover, while these managers’ spiritual mindfulness was cognisant of the immediate present, they also transcend their environments in ways that often led to enhanced moral praxis and conduct. Conversely, situations in which they failed to be spiritually mindful resulted in feelings of frustration, anxiety and loss. Based on these findings, a model of how spirituality and mindfulness might relate to produce ethical behaviour in organisations is provided. The paper concludes by offering suggestions for future research.

Keywords: spirituality, management, mindfulness, ethical decision-making