There is an increasingly nuanced understanding of the potential benefits and risks of mindfulness strategies (including meditation and yoga) in the workplace. A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled "How Meditation Benefits CEOs"discusses the empirical research that has established the effectiveness of mindfulness strategies for enhancement of resilience, emotional intelligence, empathy, creativity, and mental focus.
The benefits of mindfulness meditation for business leaders are increasingly appreciated and confirmed by empirical research. Executives and high performing professionals increasingly use meditation to manage stress, maintain strategic focus, enhance cognitive performance, promote emotional intelligence, and improve interpersonal relationships. Meditation programs are increasingly offered in the workplace to promote these benefits. Potential risks of mindfulness programs can be avoided and advantages enhanced when workers engage voluntarily and proactively in the process.
Professional success and leadership development depend on one's capacity for empathy and curiosity. Up to now, little has been understood about how to hone these essential skills. But that is changing with emerging research and the growing recognition that reading great works in the humanities can promote one's ability to imagine and understand things from someone else's perspective and, in turn, to grow in one's career and personal life.
Mindfulness is close to taking on cult status in the business world. But as with any rapidly growing movement—regardless of its potential benefits—there is good reason here for caution.
The goal of most executive coaching and leadership development is behavior change—help the individual identify and change the behaviors that are getting in the way of, and reinforce the behaviors associated with, effective leadership. But what about the beliefs and values that drive behavior?