Mindfulness is a combination of Eastern meditation and Western cognitive sciences which has become a mainstream tool in leadership development and practice. It helps you forge a path to conscious presence and improves leadership and personal life immensely. Although mindfulness may initially be associated with spirituality, religion, meditation, Buddhism, etc., mindfulness techniques are applied in all areas of modern life, including the workplace, management, leadership, as well as coaching and consultancy.

The monkey mind

All mindfulness trainings use forms of meditation as a means of developing mindfulness. Contrary to expectations, the brain, when it is in this restful state, is most active. Several systems become active simultaneously, producing the kind of thoughts and, sometimes massive, inner chatter. This is what is called »the monkey mind« by Zen Buddhists or »default state« by neuroscientists.

Out of the default state

However, there is also another state of being, in which we are fully immersed and focused. This state is often described as »being in the flow« or being fully in the present. Mindfulness activates mainly those regions of the brain that process sensory input. Therefore, meditation exercises focus on both sharpening the awareness of our sensory system and on recognizing when we slip into the »default state.«

Mindfulness in leadership?

How does all this relate to leadership? A leader who spends too much time in the »default state« or running on autopilot is impeded in his ability to think clearly, communicate properly, manage emotions and guide and coach others. Mindfulness techniques allow leaders to reduce stress and the risk of burnout or enhance life and increase the ability towards more awareness.

For a better organization

Mindfulness affects our individual attention and increases awareness and therefore also has an impact on teams and entire organizations. If people are more mindful, organizational performance, relationships with superiors as well as colleagues and ultimately the culture of the organization improves. Research even suggests that individual task performance increases, and meditators tend to have reduced performance variability and a higher ability to maintain high performance. In our trainings we have also experienced that mindfulness improves the quality of communication which relates to better problem-solving and more creativity. It also helps people develop a balanced life which builds the basis for a positive, trustful corporate culture.

Authors: Hans Bodingbauer, Imre Sivó