On the eve of the Conscious Capitalism Conference, at which I am honored to speak, I want to talk about a movement in business that is gaining momentum.
I’m talking about purpose and values driven businesses, grounded in a vision for a better world and respecting all stakeholders in the process. It’s called, Conscious Capitalism and it’s a visionary approach, developed by John Mackey, Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market and Professor Raj Sisodia, co-founder of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. where business is not driven solely by the bottom line, but is driven by a mission that can actually elevate humanity. (Check out their book, Conscious Capitalism and a livestream of the conference, April 5-6, 2013.)
One tenet of the conscious capitalism movement is developing more conscious leaders. Where leaders are responsive not only to their shareholders interests in profits, but also to the values that their business embraces, making sure that their customers’, vendors’ and importantly, their employees’ interests and needs are included in the equation.
In developing more conscious leaders, many companies are incorporating mindful leadership practices into their businesses. These are programs that address the mental health of their leaders, and often include mindfulness training, to manage stress and improve focus, clarity, memory and decision-making skills.
It is a powerful way to increase productivity and happiness in the workplace and it’s gaining momentum. Mindful leadership is no longer considered a fad or fringe.
Major corporations – some innovative tech companies, some as conservative as they get, are incorporating mindful leadership in their wellness programs. We’re talking about major American corporations like Google, Target, General Mills, Aetna, EBay, Cargill, Genentech. Their goals: reduce stress and improve productivity, creativity and the health and wellness of their employees – and improve the bottom line.
At the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, there were sessions on Mindful Leadership, with trainers leading CEOs in mindfulness practice daily. Click here to watch the public session on Experiencing Mindful Leadership, moderated by Janice Marturano, with Prof. Mark Williams and Prajal Sharma.
The country’s top business schools are embedding mindfulness and mindful leadership programs into their curriculum. In an interview co-hosted by Arianna Huffington on CNBC’s Squawkbox on March 19, 2013, Harvard Business School professor and former CEO of Medtronics, Bill George, and Yale School of Management professor, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld discussed their schools’ initiatives with mindful leadership.
During the interview, Bill George recounted his personal experience with mindfulness:
“We live in a very frenetic society, it’s 24/7. I must confess I’m 24/7 involved. All kinds of things coming at you. There’s a lot of stress. How do you maintain resilience? I found mindfulness the very best way to do it. I started meditating in 1975 when I was very young. At the time I was extremely frenetic. I think it’s helped me calm down, have more clarity and focus and frankly be a lot more productive and a better leader for the people I work with.”
George discussed implementing mindfulness training among 800 MBA students and executives annually at Harvard Business School:
“We do talk about mindfulness and authenticity and how do you find the passion and the power within you to be an effective leader and how do you convey that to your people?”
George went on to discuss his thoughts on how mindfulness practice can affect productivity:
“. . . everyday, we need to pull aside for just 20 minutes and think what is it that’s really important today? I find that when I do this I get my greatest clarity and creativity. And if you don’t have some form of practice- maybe it’s not meditation, maybe it’s journaling or diary or praying or talking to a loved one.
But something where you really think about and focus on what’s important. Because you can’t just be scatterbrained all day and be productive.”
When asked why would major U.S. businesses jump into the mindful leadership movement, he responded, “There’s only one reason it’s happening. It’s going to improve your long-term bottom line.”
Why Mindful Leadership? Because it is scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve focus, clarity, productivity, healthfulness and creativity. And more importantly for business, as noted above, it can decrease health care costs that are attributable to preventable chronic illness, improve productivity and consequently directly affect a company’s long term bottom line.
In the next few blogs, we’ll bring you some of the scientific studies on how mindfulness improves brain functioning.
You will find it’s time to take a serious look at a mindfulness based stress reduction programs that incorporate brain science, and are designed to improve the health, relationships and productivity of your employees.
If you are interested in learning more, take a look at our Mindful Leadership program, The 4 in 4 Framework to Achieve Peak Performance. We’d be honored to serve you.