Mindfulness, Leadership and Ethics
In a follow-up to my blog on Mindfulness in the Workplace, I wanted to hone in on the role of mindfulness in leadership and ethics.
Recent cross-functional studies demonstrate that mindfulness benefits organisations at the leadership level (Reb et al., 2014). Mindfulness in leadership is characterised by three qualities (Choi and Rouse, 2016):
Leaders with self-awareness and self-regulation manage their thoughts and emotions effectively enough to maintain objectivity while engaging with employees. Conversely, self-transcendence allows the leader to focus fully and empathically on the employee and the employee’s needs. This empathetic engagement promotes leader-employee relationships built on trust (Choi and Rouse, 2016).
In terms of ethics, mindfulness increases employees’ awareness of their thought processes, which translates to self-awareness. Since the worker can remain accepting and objective in the moment, being mindful enables them to first identify that they are reacting automatically, and second, correct that bias. In addition, being mindful of one’s biases protects the worker from succumbing to internal psychological processes (Ruedy and Schweitzer, 2010). The employee can then continue to review the situation objectively and creatively, free of existing patterns and associations. This dynamic supports both discovering new ways of seeing and doing and making decisions aligned with one’s ethics and morals.
Indeed, studies have shown that mindful individuals are less likely to cheat, more likely to value principles, and more likely to have principles which guide their decision-making than individuals without mindfulness skills (Ruedy and Schweitzer, 2010). Mindfulness then, advances ethical decision-making. Having mindful, ethical employees and leaders benefits the organisation by preserving and even furthering the organisation’s integrity (Reb, Narayanan and Chaturvedi, 2012).