Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management
Possibilities, purpose and pitfalls: Insights from introducing mindfulness to leaders
While mindfulness has been part of Buddhism and other religious and philosophical traditions for millennia, the last decades have seen adoption of mindfulness in clinical settings and more recently, in organisations and leadership. This article reports experiences introducing practices and concepts of mindfulness to managers and leaders across a wide range of sectors and organisational settings over the last ten years. I identify six particular insights that have emerged as important over that time: from how to define and explain mindfulness to leaders, through to ethical issues of the purposes to which mindfulness is put. Through discussion of these insights, I argue that mindful leadership is not a template and its introduction in organisations is not just about reducing stress and helping employees put their shoulder to the wheel of greater productivity. Rather, being mindful in leadership can be understood as a potentially radical, even subversive, act. It offers enlivening and humanising prospects for leaders and leadership, with its encouragement to see reality and challenge orthodoxies, to put a primary value on the well-being of others and how we live and lead now.
Key words: mindfulness, mindful leadership, management, purpose, leaders, meditation, organisational mindfulness, workplace stress