This page contains an overview of how mindfulness is being used in business by leaders and the workforce alike. This page contains case studies, links and video clips. As this page contains a high volume of information, use the "Quick Links" on the right of the screen to help you navigate round more quickly, or the "search" box at the top of the screen.
Mindfulness can help reduce workplace tensions. People who practice mindfulness at work report an improved ability to communicate clearly and more appropriate reactions to stressful situations. They also report a better ability to handle workplace conflict, Improved teamwork, a better ability to "think out of the box" and in some cases enhanced creativity.
Using mindfulness in the workplace is highly beneficial to both businesses and their employees. Mindfulness can help businesses provide a higher standard of Customer Service by equipping their staff with the skills to respond more appropriately to their daily challenges. Mindfulness can help employees respond more appropriately to managers and colleagues that they have previously found difficult. A few minutes of mindfulness at the start of a meeting usually leads to improved focus, clearer communication and improved decision making. Teams who practice mindfulness, even for a few minutes a day report improved team working and team relations.
The most widely documented use of mindfulness in the workplace is by Leaders and Executives. Modern business leaders are now asked to perform and thrive in a global environment that moves and changes at lightning speed. To become more adaptable and flexible in this environment, leaders need to move beyond familiar or habitual ways of seeing the world and open up to new ways of listening, leading, responding, and innovating.
While innovation can't be manufactured on demand, it can be cultivated both inwardly and outwardly through the practice of mindfulness. Cultivating attention and awareness through mindfulness provides a new way for leaders and their workforce to live all aspects of their lives with a greater sense of skill, connection, openness, and balance.
Business leaders today are being asked to perform and thrive in a global environment that moves and changes at an increasingly fast pace. To become more adaptable and flexible in this environment, leaders need to move beyond familiar or habitual ways of seeing the world and open up to new ways of listening, leading, responding, and innovating.
Studies of Mindfulness in a business context have shown that increases in mindfulness are associated with increased creativity and decreased burnout.
Mindfulness Meditation quiets mental chatter and It lays the foundation for better decision-making and communication. Mindfulness can be developed by attending mindfulness classes, or via 1:1 coaching from a mindfulness coach in the workplace.
Mindful leadership research
The Ashridge Journal: Mindful leadership: Exploring the value of a meditation practice; Spring 2011
The practice of meditation in the business world is increasingly moving from the fringe to the mainstream, and already features as a key part of a number of international management and organisation development programmes. Emma Dolman and Dave Bond review the impact that meditation practices have made, and report on a meditation research study conducted at Ashridge.
Their preliminary findings suggest a significantly upwards shift in general levels of satisfaction for individuals who commit to a period of mindfulness. This is a promising finding in relation to an exploration of the beneficial impact of meditation for the workplace. 90% of Group 1 (participants practicing mindfulness) noted benefi ts from having participated in the mindfulness activities. 61% noted 'feeling of calm', 30% listed 'enjoyed leaving everything and having time to themselves'. 22% of the items listed related to improved sleep, and 22% also cited 'having a different perspective'. By comparison, only 52% of Group 2 noted benefi cial value from their self-chosen non-meditation activities.
Their study provides early indications to support existing work in this field, which incorporates mindfulness and meditation in leadership development and sustainability.
Mindful leadership case studies
Case study 1: Mindful leadership at General Mills
In 2009, General Mills ranked No. 3 in Fortune magazine's listing of the Global Top Companies for Leaders; No. 7 in Training magazine's ranking of top companies; and No. 12 in BusinessWeek's listing of the Best Places to Launch a Career. One reason the company has consistently fared so well is because it has aggressively pioneered the use and development of cutting-edge leadership programs. One of the newest, most popular initiatives has been the Mindful Leadership Program series.
Case Study 2: Dave Jakubowski: Vice President United Online
Dave Jakubowski is vice-president of business development for Internet service provider United Online. Dave Jakubowski is no breathe-like-a-tree kind of guy. "I'm in business," he says, "and I need results." So he recently turned to a mat and 60 minutes of silence. "It's amazing," he says of his new mindfulness meditation practice. "I'm able to sort through work challenges in this state of calm much faster than trying to fight through it. And I make fewer mistakes."
from Zen and the Art of Corporate Productivity - an article that also references other companies who have engages with mindful leadership.
Case study 3: Joel Rubinstein MD; Associate Medical Director, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Harvard Pilgrim is a not-for-profit health plan that provides a variety of insurance plan options and self-funding arrangements to more than one million members in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Harvard Pilgrim currently has 1300 staff, and actively promotes a healthy balance of work and personal life. They were recently named as one of the Globes top 100 places to work.
Around 25% of staff have attended mindfulness training (MBSR) run in house by Tara Healey.
Case study 4: Michael Forlenza, PhD, MPH, School of Leadership and Professional Advancement, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Michael is Assistant Dean in the School of Leadership. His role is both strategic and operational. The School has an annual budget of approximately $4 million. Michael's primary focus is on the development, reorganization, and implementation of school-wide operations and academic programs, policies, procedures, and processes.
"Mindfulness supports my leadership practice at several different levels simultaneously. First, on a personal level, I find the practice helps me deal with the stress of constant information overload and shifting demands and priorities. It also helps as I manage my staff; I am more present, more thoughtful and deliberative in decision-making...."
Case study 5: Leaders who use mindfulness at work: Kristen Stancik: Client Service Manager: Citizen Relations (PR)
Kristen is a busy Client Service Manager with global public relations firm Citizen Relations.
PR is the second most stressful industry, behind air-traffic controllers. "Mindfulness has been invaluable in all areas of my work: actively listening to my clients, developing wise and innovative strategies, fostering creativity"............
Case study 6: If Insurance
A Mindfulness programme run within IF Insurance was independently evaluated by the Health Group in 2010. The results, based on participant’s self-assessment included:
88% of participant reporting “a highly increased ability to stay focussed” 76% of participant reporting “highly increased positive relationships within their teams”. 68% of participant reporting “highly increased personal efficiency and productivity” 60% of participant reporting “highly increased ability to counteract stress”
Based in the USA, The Institute for Mindful Leadership brings together a deep knowledge of mindfulness training and the actual, lived experience of senior business leaders. The work of the Institute began more than five years ago at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School through the collaboration efforts of Saki Santorelli and Janice Marturano and evolved to serve the increasing demand through the creation of this new non-profit institute. Today the Institute enables top executives in business, academia, non-profit and government sectors to fully realize their potential through Mindful Leadership training. Hundreds of leaders from organizations from around the world have participated in these unique programs. Its Executive Director, Janice Marturano, is a Vice President, Public Responsibility and Deputy General Counsel of General Mills, Inc. and an experienced mindfulness teacher.
The Institute offers an array of programs specifically designed to explore the intersection of mindfulness training and the qualities associated with leadership excellence.
Based in the UK, Michael Chaskalson is the founder and Chief Executive of Mindfulness Works. Michael and his team coach senior people and deliver bespoke training. Michael is the author of "The Mindful Workplace" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), Michael is one of the world's foremost proponents of the use of mindfulness in workplace settings.
Having attended Michael's training, Mindfulnet.org can personally recommend Michael and the services he provides. Testimonials include: "After the course I seem to get more done with less effort. I'm more grounded and have an increased self-belief. It's not that I feel protected from bad things happening but rather that whatever happens there's nothing to fear really. It's improved my relationships, especially the previously challenging ones at work!"
The Potential project
The Potential Project has developed the Corporate-Based Mindfulness Training Program (CBMT) in order to meet the specific challenges corporate life has. CBMT is a tailor-made solution for busy people with little time and high ambitions. The Potential Project was initiated in Copenhagen, Denmark, around 2005. Now it is an international organization with a growing number of trainers in countries all over the world.
Articles on Mindfulness for leaders
Finding the space to lead by Janice Marturano.
Excellent article about how mindfulness helps leaders see, hear, and think with greater clarity.....
Knowledge Worker Productivity and The Practice of Self-Management By Jeremy Hunter, Ph.D., with J. Scott Scherer.
A chapter from The Ducker Difference: What the World's Greatest Management Thinker Means to Today's Business Leaders published in 2009. The chapter features how to use mindfulness for self management
Learn to become a mindful leader By Ronald Alexander, Ph.D
This article was published in Psychology today on the January 13, 2010: "A mindful leader leads from a position of mindful awareness, or what I call mindstrength, by knowing how to respond with awareness instead of reaction and how to make everyone on their team feel recognised, affirmed and valued."
The slumbering giant stirs: Heed the need for mindful leadership
"There's a growing sense of unrest-from the Arab spring, to the European austerity protests, to the TEA party, the Occupy movement, the 53 percenters, and the list goes on and on. What does it mean? And why bother writing about it on a leadership blog?
Here's what it means, a basic human yearning- to have a voice, to be heard, to be respected, to be connected, and to be known in ways that honor, explore, and unlock potential-has gone unaddressed in the world (and the world of work) for far too long."......
Mindfulness: the leaders path during times of change.
This article explores how leaders can become more mindful in times of change
Mindfulness for Leaders
Michael Chaskalson's recent talk at Ashridge Renewal "Leaders need to learn to rebalance their neurological state to activate the parasympathetic area of the brain. This triggers hormones such as oxytocin, which governs bonding and engagement, care and concern, hope, optimism and elation. The immune system becomes enhanced and blood pressure falls. Old brain neurons expand and new neurons grow."
Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart people Underperform Harvard Business Review article.
"Frenzied executives who fidget through meetings, miss appointments, and jab at the elevator's "door close" button aren't crazy-just crazed. They're suffering from a newly recognized neurological phenomenon called attention deficit trait (ADT). Marked by distractibility, inner frenzy, and impatience, ADT prevents managers from clarifying priorities, making smart decisions, and managing their time. This insidious condition turns otherwise talented performers into harried underachievers. And it's reaching epidemic proportions.
An introduction to the Mind to Lead Model .
How one of Suzanne Kryder's coaching clients, Judith, used the three facets of mindfulness on the job.
The value of deep thinking: Financial Times reports on the long-term value of deep thinking in troubled times
"Google also offers meditation. "It helps clarity of vision," the company says. "In the workplace it gives our employees the time and headspace to unwind in the midst of their busy days. If people feel refreshed, and can take part in something like this with a group of like-minded people, then who knows what innovation this might lead to?"
Mindful leadership: Training the brain to lead by Michael Chaskalson
Michael Chaskalson talks about the neuroscience of mindfulness and how this can improve leadership. " Mindfulness training can help you to become happier -and it can make you a better leader."
Michael Carroll, an experienced consultant and HR executive with many years of experience in both the corporate world and the world of Zen, draws attention to the benefits that can result from taking being more mindful in the workplace. Carroll addresses ways to enhance productivity when working, focusing on ways to open communication and break the limitations of routine. He talks about work as a source of identity and explains why mindfulness training is about training the mind. "Work is not an intrusion, its an invitation to live our lives".