Mindful Leadership: When East Meets West

Harvard Business School professor William George is fusing Western understanding about leadership with Eastern wisdom about the mind to develop leaders who are self-aware and self-compassionate. An interview about his recent Mindful Leadership conference taught with a Buddhist meditation master. Key concepts include:
  • People who are mindful—fully present and aware—can become more effective leaders.
  • Leaders with low emotional intelligence often lack self-awareness and self-compassion, which can lead to a lack of self-regulation.
  • Authenticity is developed by becoming more self-aware and having compassion for oneself.
  • Group support provides nonjudgmental feedback in order to recognize blind spots, accept shortcomings, and gain confidence.
by Sean Silverthorne

Asian beliefs, philosophies, and practices are influencing everything from the way we treat the ill to how we make cars. Now, a Harvard Business School professor is looking to the East as a model for developing strong business leaders.

William George, an expert on leadership development, recently teamed with Tibetan Buddhist meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche to present a conference on "mindful leadership," a secular process to explore the roles of self-awareness and self-compassion in developing strong and effective leaders.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time that a Buddhist Rinpoche and a leadership professor have joined forces to explore this subject and see how Eastern teaching can inform our Western thinking about leadership and vice versa," George says. You can read George's summary of the Mindful Leadership conference on his Web site.

For George, leaders who don't develop self-awareness are subject to becoming seduced by external rewards, such as power, money, and recognition. They also have difficulty acknowledging mistakes, an Achilles' heel that has crippled a number of CEOs who have appeared in the news recently.

We have set up a forum for readers to give their own ideas on this concept and to ask Professor George questions.

Sean Silverthorne: Tell us about the Mindful Leadership conference. What were the goals?

Bill George: The Mindful Leadership conference, which was held in Minneapolis August 13-14, 2010, brought together 400 participants in an exploration of how mindfulness can contribute to sustaining effective leadership. The seminar was co-led by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a leading Buddhist meditation master, and myself.

Its goal was to bring together Western understanding about leadership and Eastern wisdom about the mind, developed from practices that have been used for thousands of years, to contribute to the self-awareness and self-compassion of leaders.

Q: What is mindful leadership, and what are its benefits?

A: Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one's reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.

Q: How does one become mindfully aware?

A: I would not claim to be an expert in this area. Our Mindful Leadership seminar focused on the practice of meditation as one of those ways, with a variety of meditation techniques taught by Rinpoche. This was strictly a secular teaching, not a Buddhist one. In my experience I have observed people become more mindful through prayer, introspective discussions, therapy, and the use of reflective techniques and exercises.

Q: You have said that few leaders lose their jobs because of lack of intelligence, but many do so because of lack of emotional intelligence. Can you talk about this a little more and give some examples.

A: Leaders with low emotional intelligence (EQ) often lack self-awareness and self-compassion, which can lead to a lack of self-regulation. This also makes it very difficult for them to feel compassion and empathy for others. Thus, they struggle to establish sustainable, authentic relationships.

Leaders who do not take time for introspection and reflection may be vulnerable to being seduced by external rewards, such as power, money, and recognition. Or they may feel a need to appear so perfect to others that they cannot admit vulnerabilities and acknowledge mistakes. Some of the recent difficulties of Hewlett-Packard, British Petroleum, CEOs of failed Wall Street firms, and dozens of leaders who failed in the post-Enron era are examples of this.

Q: The two essential aspects of effective leaders, you explain, are self-awareness and self-compassion.

A: An essential aspect of effective leaders is authenticity; that is, being genuine and true to one's beliefs, values, and principles that make up what we call someone's True North.

Authenticity is developed by becoming more self-aware and having compassion for oneself, without which it is very difficult to feel genuine compassion for others. Self-awareness starts with understanding one's life story and the impact of one's crucibles, and reflecting on how these contribute to motivations and behaviors. As people come to accept the less-favored parts of themselves that they do not like or have rejected, as well as learning from failures and negative experiences, they gain compassion for themselves and authenticity in relating to the world around them.

Q: How does the work you are doing in this area align with your concept of "True North"?

A: In our work on True North and in teaching authentic leadership development to students and seasoned leaders, we have learned that the greatest challenge to following one's True North comes when the pressures and seductions are intense. That is when it is most crucial to be self-aware.

This of course is not a new idea. Self-awareness is central to Daniel Goleman's emotional intelligence. It is relatively rare to find people who are fully self-aware. Mindfulness is a logical step in this process of gaining self-awareness that should be combined with experiences in leading through challenging situations and gaining awareness through feedback and group support.

Q: I know you are a strong believer in group support in the development of leaders. Can you talk a bit about how group support differs from mentorship, for example?

A: Mentorship is a one-to-one process with someone who has greater experience and is willing to share from that experience. Group support as practiced in True North Groups consists of a small number of peers (usually five to eight) willing to share themselves and their lives and support each other through both good and difficult times. A key element of these groups is learning to give and receive nonjudgmental feedback in order to recognize blind spots, accept shortcomings, and gain the confidence to address great challenges in their lives.

Q: Do you think business schools should be paying more attention to this subject?

A: Any business school committed to developing leaders needs to offer courses and other experiential opportunities that enable students to develop greater awareness of themselves, their motivations, and their strengths and shortcomings.

This process is most effective when real-world experiences can be reflected upon to deepen self-understanding in a supportive and trusting environment. This is the central tenet of the Authentic Leadership Development (ALD) course at Harvard Business School, which will soon to be offered to leaders as part of the School's Executive Education offerings.

Q: If HBS Working Knowledge readers want to learn more about mindful leadership, which resources would you recommend?

A: Current literature on this subject is limited because the ideas are still in the early stages of development. I highly recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn's book Wherever You Go, There You Are and his CD Guided Mindfulness Meditation, and Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's books The Joy of Living and Joyful Wisdom. In the ALD course at HBS, we use my book True North and its companion workbook, Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: I am working on a book on peer support groups with Doug Baker that is tentatively titled "True North Groups: The Vital Link." These groups are based on the Leadership Development Groups we use at HBS and the groups Doug and I have participated in for more than 25 years. Many of the ideas we explored in the Mindful Leadership conference will be covered this book.

    • Amy Hanenburg
    • Asst Controller, Southfield Corp
    The magnitude and impact of today's trying economic conditions, without question, warrant some type of new approach to leadership.

    In my experience, often during the most troubling times I've found I must look inward to find the answers. Why should the corporate world be any different? The answers are always there, but the caveat is, we must be willing to listen to them. Listening requires a great deal of selflessness. It means that one's ego must be put aside for the greater good. Is that possible in the business world? In my optimistic mindset I would like to say yes, but alas, not all people are altruistic. More often than not, today's leaders are self-serving and have little to no regard for anything unrelated to improving their personal wealth and power position.

    "Mindful Leadership" is not unlike stewardship in that both require careful, thoughtful, responsible management to ensure the long-term sustainability of an organization.

    It is my hope that every one of today's leaders will read this article and take it to heart, but as a realist, I must admit that is not likely.

    Thanks for the insightful and thought-provoking article.
    • Anonymous
    Generally loved the main thrust of the article because I believe that the secular Buddhist teachings (philosophy and psychology) contain more "satisfying answers" than Western approaches which are band-aid in nature as opposed to holistic. I was slightly amused it is being introduced in this article as something "new" and the content was surprisingly thin. That said.., glad to see the continued progress for ideas that Goleman made mainstream and continues to share for the common good.
    • Bob Schoultz
    • Director MS in GLobal (Business)Leadership,, University of San Diego
    A couple of other books that address this subject that I would recommend are The Tao of Leadership by John Heider, and The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life by Michael Roach. Both emphasize maintaining a certain distance and perspective from the turmoil in the hustle and bustle, give and take of business. Meditation is a means to that end. Roach, in the Diamond Cutter found great value in regularly withdrawing from his business world, cutting off all communications and distractions, and relaxing to let his creative energies come back. He'd take a notebook to put down thoughts and ideas, and return to work rested, refreshed, and with many problems solved and ideas for new initiatives. Worth a look for those interested in the intersection between Buddhism and Business Leadership. Great ideas that however require some commitment. As does increasing one's self awareness.
    • Joanne Wakelin
    • Principal Consultant, The Simpl Group
    Very interesting article. I quite agree with the comments about self-wareness and self-compassion. In my personal journey the ability to forgive myself and accept myself as a fallible human being, and give to myself have been essential steps to being able to forgive and give to others and lead with empathy. The effort has been well worth the rewards.
    • Tim Gieseke
    • President, Ag Resource Strategies
    Thank you for the insights. It is quite encouraging that increasing the emotional intelligence may be the solution to many of our societal issues. Once a person elevates their awareness, they will have lessened the motivation to return to a lower state. At this higher state, they become a better person. It does come down to deconstructing the ego and allow you to be the person you are. This shift to Eastern thoughts will be hastened as the center of commerce migrate east.
    • Peter Woo
    • Director, Austpacific Investment and Consulting Services
    Its a useful concept in developing what I often call "responsible leadership" - a leadership style in understanding oneself working in a "world of humility" - in all behaviour and in treating others. Too often we have seen, esp for the last decade, that CEOs or top leadership became so imbued in their own self-coveted grandiosity, with entrusted formal power and authority (say, financial and hierarchical etc etc) in their own organizations that they forgot WHY they are there for - not for oneself but for the COMMON GOOD of the organizations that they for work (including not the least are all their sub-ordinated staff and shareholders) and even more importantly, for the society, for the county and for the world they all share with billions others. Unfortunately, there were, and still are, too many self-indulged CEOs and leadership (indeed the many Boards of Directors, too) - without an upright sense of integrity, honour, humility and fairness - are taking organizations down the path of corruptive and immoral behaviour and/or practices. This reflective tool can no doubt provide some handy means for leadership to be constantly reminded of their mission as a decent, humble, caring and honourable person in their respective society and within a world context. "Humility" is an important cornerstone of Asian philosophies - a deep rooted concern for oneself and also more importantly for others. Western management styles have much to learn from, and to adapt to it.
    • Charlene Andersen
    • Owner, Kamigo Marketing LLC
    It is great to read more and more leaders are coming to the realization that mindfulness and values centered leadership is critical in business. This is not a new concept to the circle of small business leaders to whom I walk with that use mindfulness and values-center leadership daily.

    We may be lesser known (including myself) to many readers of HBS but a great example is Tom's of Maine's founder Tom Chappell who wrote the book Values-Centered Leadership and lead the former Saltwater Institute teaching the Sevens Intentions.

    I look forward to reading more about how leaders are integrating mindfulness and similar disciplines into the workplace, especially in large corporations.

    Charlene Andersen
    Kamigo Marketing
    • Anonymous
    Great read!! It would be interesting to have a discussion on the complacency and poor proficiemcy which exits in the managements of the southeastern eastern countries. The make-do "leaders" - the owners sitting blind siting in these corporations are not only being blind-sighted due to their attitude to promote the gossiping culture but also due to emotional factor "Oh! the person has been with us for very lng etc.." and listening, believing and acting on the gossip, but then sever exploiting of the employees.
    Unfortunately, not a single study has been done/documented with realistic and cutting remarks about these deficiencies in the south eastern corporations. It would be the best that, some one conducts a research on the "Typical" Leadership styles and management attitude of these companies.
    • Ian Thornton-Bryar
    • Retired MD, Bryar & Gaskell Limited
    When I saw the headlines I hoped to see some insight into the Middle-Eastern mindset, but this group seems focussed on the Far, rather than the Middle East.

    The contrast is quite remarkable. Having spent 4 years beased in Saudi Arabia, but visiting most of the surrounding Islamic states on business, mindfulness is not an adjective that sprang to mind at any time during that sojourn.
    • bill george
    • harvard business school
    My sincere thanks to those readers who took the time to offer such thoughtful comments. it strikes me that we are all learners, on journeys not only to find true selves, but to develop ways to create a leadership model that works for everyone in organizations. As we progress toward that end, we can create a healthier, more positive society.
    • Anonymous
    I do not think individuals or organization should be fooled into thinking that such a mindful leader would be some kind of hug and cupcakes leader either, no far from it. In fact I suspect a not only fully aware, but wide awake leader would be something, most, if not all organization would have difficulties adjusting too as compassion is not only the gentle guide dog to the blind it is the jaws that would kill for the hungry off spring.

    So while this may be a sought after type of leadership I think it would be prudent to first prepare and structure an organization then go out and try to create such a candidate. Much in the same way a desert environment created the Camel and the financial markets spawned Enron executives. For that same suspicion also tells me if there is, or was, such a type of individual they would likely already be leading with compassionate waiting, and sacrificing them self unseen to all if necessary to show that way, as opposed to continuing on with the destruction.
    • Li Lei
    Being mindful is a virtue for leaders in a corporate world plagued by mindlessness, since the root of leadership development resides in leading oneself.
    In this regard, I believe the ideas of ancient Chinese thinkers could offer some fresh and original perspective. However, I doubt whether there is such thing as "eastern thinking". This is a term too vague and superficial to be relevant.

    Besides, while Buddhism, at its core, contains a very profound meta-physical understanding of mind and universe, I do not think its use is merely for meditation or other methods. In fact, some revered Monks take a dim view of such practices and their value in helping one attain "Prajia".
    Buddhism tries to address more fundamental issue facing humankind than how to become a effective business leader.
    • Ralph Lewis
    • CE, Ralph Lewis Associates
    I totally approve of all this work to incorporate some of the teachings of the East into our world but we must translate it into our context and culture. For example I commented to a Buddhist that the focus in the East seemed on detachment which I personally found difficult. He replied that in his view detachment was needed in the East because there was so much focus on relationship whereas we in the West perhaps should focus more through mindfulness on relationships.

    I would also recommend in that line a number of western authors who, whilst not claiming to be Buddhist, have "re-discovered" some profound truths. The Sedona Method for example is superb. Also Byron Katie's "The Work" again is very powerful and referring back to an early comment compassionate but very tough and clear. Also at the far end but one I found exhilarating as it appeared to me to be a profound translation of mindfulness into our western economic experience is Robert Scheinfeld "Busting Loose from the Money Game"
    • Ben Simonton
    Sorry, but "mindful leadership" sounds like another buzz word, another fad.

    And as concerns "East meets West", people are the same all over the world from a managerial standpoint in spite of their differing cultures.

    The reason for both of these comments is that all people want to be heard and be respected. The extent these needs are met by management dictates the level of employee engagement, whether they are fully committed and motivated to do their very best at work or whether they are mostly demotivated, demoralized and unproductive.

    The most basic problem all managers have is their tendency to use the traditional top-down command and control approach to managing employees. That is a problem because that approach by its nature demotivates and demoralizes employees. The solution to this problem is easy-to-execute.

    Best regards, Ben Simonton
    Author "Leading People to be Highly Motivated and Committed"
    • Sabrina Hanan
    • President, All About Work
    Thank you to HBS and Professor George for creating this forum and posing these critical questions. And thank you for the insights of the responses to the article.

    The tag line of my consultancy is "Bringing Social and Emotional Intelligence into the Workplace." The questions posed by the article point directly to what I hold most important in a leader which is humility gained from self-awareness. This is a simple string of words but represents an endeavor that requires courage and guidance on the part of the leader. For many if not most senior executives, this path is a distraction from what they believe is most important. But as Dr. Senge has pointed out repeatedly, the most damaging organizational systemic dysfunction is, "I am my position."

    When I coach or consult or teach on this topic, I gain cooperation by reminding my clients or students a person who is emotionally and socially intelligent lives longer, is happier, makes more money and develops a healthier and more successful organizational culture. The healthier organizational culture they cultivate brings greater profit and strength to their system.

    Certainly, the Buddhist traditions of deepening one's awareness of not only the self but of the world around us is a rich and beautiful cohort to Dr. Goleman's strong admonishment to be humble and serve others.

    I feel very grateful for all the wise professionals who are showing the way toward this global systemic healing approach to leadership. Thank you.
    • Deborah Knox
    I would love to connect directly with Bill George, as I am quite keen on making meditation more widely available in graduate business programs. I am seeing a greater and greater call for agile, resilient, innovative, authentic, focused, empathic, socially responsible leaders who are able to navigate uncertainty; scientists are increasingly demonstrating that meditation practice cultivates these attributes. While many of business schools have added experiential learning and coaching to their leadership-development offerings over the last few years, I think offering meditation is the missing piece, one that would yield sustainable, world-changing results.
    • Pete DeLisi
    • President, Organizational Synergies
    Bill, you write that "mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one's reactions to stressful situations." As I read this I couldn't help but think about the current obsession with electronic media and how that compromises our ability to be fully present to ourselves and others. I study we recently completed at Santa Clara University details this harmful effect. Related to your discussion on the use of meditation to achieve mindfulness, we also describe the effect that electronic media are having on brain waves and conclude that they produce beta waves, as opposed to the alpha brain waves present in meditation and other peaceful states, such as communions with nature. Maybe, this explains why senior executives have not flocked to social media in the same numbers as their subordinates.
    • biswashree
    • ISKCON
    It is very encouraging to see that at last the wisdom contained in eastern philosophies and spirituality are being given their due honor. As a practitioner of eastern philosophy, I can very confidently say that the virtues and values imbibed by eastern teachings create a leader who is not only dexterous but also has the self-awareness required to be an exemplary leader.
    • James Delano
    Thanks for the interesting article. Surely, emotional intelligence is one item that we all can learn from. However, I'm not sure that emotional intelligence (or "mindfulness") is a concept that should be thought of as "of the East," nor that the West is at all ignorant of it.

    Emotional intelligence is a global, age-old phenomenon, and just like IQ, people score on both sides of the bell curve, high and low. Considering markable differences in cultural and societal norms between the East and West (between states, regions, or even people of different occupations as well [e.g., the president of the country club and the leader of a biker gang in the same town]), having great emotional intelligence means something different in culture A than culture B. Likewise, if one particular individual predominately interacts with people of a similar background/culture, and seldom interacts with a much different culture, then maximizing resources on learning emotional intelligence within one culture is most efficient and there would be no incentive/value to learning emotional intelligence outside a single culture.

    Being isolated to a single set of norms is normal for students of professional schools and young professionals, as little interaction with "cultural outsiders" is required. Additionally, the need for working together with classmates and professors of similar backgrounds further incentivizes and conditions emotional intelligence for a student's own cultural group. However, at some stage, these students later land jobs as managers, jobs where performance is weighed in ability to promote people of various disciplines, backgrounds and (increasingly) cultures to work together efficiently and effectively. Considering this difference in training for the manager and the real-wold scenario, it's quite clear that today's manager would benefit from studying the emotions of others.

    It may seem prima facie as secrets from the East, but it's really just understanding a bit about the groups of people who work for you.
    • Asha Sridhar
    • Director & Country Head, Progress U India Pvt. Ltd.
    Brilliant! I have long been of the opinion that leadership starts with self. It is more than just knowing oneself, it is also about applying that intelligence in every area and aspect of life. A true leader demonstrates leadership in every aspect of their life.

    This blend of Eastern philosophy and Western process will prove to be a very good foundation and I am positive it will be of immense value to aspiring leaders across the globe.

    Thank you,
    Ms. Asha Sridhar
    Mindful Leadership. this can create questions, does it mean leadership is from the mind or I should choose whom to lead or how to lead. The topic has good insight in my opinion but as a management forum it ought to attract much management attention and be exact.
    Managers today are faced with the most dynamic environment of all times and require much insight and experience to fulfil both organiosational and personal needs.
    it is great today, to introduce much topics and training programmes that aim at improving the methods of leading and managing organisations.
    We really need to improve our leadership styles if we have to direct the efforts of our followers. For Example, in my organisation i had unskilled staff on 28 August 2006, today most of them are graduates and have skill to monitor and control their performance. if i apply the traditional way of management, i lose some. however inorder to motivate them and appreciate their academic achievements i need to introduce new ways of management. we all need to be mindful when it cames to leadership.
    Thank you
    • Ajay Kumar Gupta
    • Management Faculty, ITM,Business School, Kharghar, India
    The driver of mindful leadership is true north. And true north is a state of self awareness and empathy. True north is nothing but a value which guides actions, decisions and passions in all aspects of your life. I agree that inner instrospection, payers and exercises make the person more aware. It is because all these techniques create belief in oneself, capabliity and potential. However, in practice, it is challege to follow your true north because there are lot of gray area in business that will tempt you. Sometimes you might be influenced by external pressures or demands or external circumstances. Just like magnetic compass is influenced by the heavy magnetic field around, your true north is influenced by the gray area around. So, the strength of your true north depends upon your belief,value and what matters the most in your life. True north is actually shaped by your beliefs and needs. And how do you want to achieve those nee
    ds. By ethical ways or unethical ways. By any means or every means.
    Following true north is a challenge. It becomes more challenging when you fail and do not meet your expectations. More you fail, higher becomes the gap between result and expetations. And those are the moments when you tend to compromise your values. You question your true north when you do not meet expecations of others and when your friends get more than you without following ture north. Those are the gray moments when you become desperate, frustrated and disappointed. You compromise your values when you do not believe your true north. So, the major obstacle arise in following true north when you start losing faith and belief in your values. So, there starts trade off between vaules and gray areas. And the higher values always overcomes gray area or obstacles. Therefore, values of higher magnitude and sustainable in nature always guides you in right and mindful direction
    • Anonymous

    For far too long leadership has been about what (results) or how (tool/techniques) - finally it?s about who (the human being the leadership comes out of)!!

    Or said another way: You may have the will and the capabilities but if you don?t have the focus (knowing your purpose, values and vision) you can?t lead. Not yourself nor others. And focus comes out of meditation. Reflective inquiry. Stilness.

    True leadership comes from the inside out. For the benefit of the whole.

    Bo Heimann
    Fellow Ocford Leadership Academy, Denmark
    • Kadir Yıldız
    • Sales Manager, Pepsico
    I would like to suggest you read about Mevlana Rumi as his works are so relevant to this discussion. Rumi believes Creative love, or the urge to rejoin the spirit to divinity, was the goal towards which every thing moves. He was an evolutionary thinker in the sense that he believed that the spirit after devolution from the divine Ego undergoes an evolutionary process by which it comes nearer and nearer to the same divine Ego.
    As a natural consequence of this process, a person at this stage is supposed to have self-awareness and self-compassion. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence can also be easily derived within this teaching.
    • vic williams
    • a process coach

    Peter Senge also has stories, writings, in this area.

    Buddhist and Taoist thought and doing are effective.
    ("The Art of War" , "The Tao of Physics" ) A melded family of thought in this area is processwork - www.processwork.org.

    The tao/dao pattern is natural. Matching Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language". So one explanation is that some are thinking more naturally, more wild.
    • James Middlewood
    • Psychotherapist, Integral Man Pty Ltd
    I welcome any intention to tackle the problems of relationships at work or at home and also to develop a greater awareness of the many "Is" we use in our relationships.

    I am cautious to get excited because it is so often the case that these concepts like "emotional intelligence" become very popular and everyone rushes out and reads the book, does the 2 day master class and then professes to know something. I think then for most people including leaders, these concepts largely remain an intellectual discussion that is mostly ego-driven and ends being a great way to avoid real expression of ones thoughts and feelings.

    The other part is that corporations are renowned for a 'tick in the box" approach - do the course, have a few follow up group discussions, some personal 'executive coaching", maybe even a peer/staff feedback survey and you are done. And So, it becomes another leadership objective and a goal.

    In my experience corporations large and small are environments in which people disavow aspects of self and this means there is seldom any real relationship between colleagues and leaders. This means, I think most people, fear expressing their real needs and other aspects of personality.

    So the challenge we have is firstly people who recognise the need to change, don't always know how to and are often misguided by folly of their own ego's or others who are equally ignorant and secondly people don't want to change because it involves too much personal risk.

    I firmly believe the only way we can change is in relationships. Mindful leadership is in danger of remaining a concept unless it is clear that it is a practice, a way of being and an ongoing relationship process, in which mistakes will be made. This means there must always be someone with more personal awareness able and willing to coach and mentor others beginning the process and continue to support them until they leave the organisation or at least get to a level of maturity in which they can become a coach themselves.

    The problem with such an approach is money and until corporations are prepared to really invest in human change and tolerate the disruptiveness of it - I will remain doubtful.

    I like the concept and the intention. I hope it does not remain one.
    • Kamal Gupta
    • CEO, Edseva Software
    Way back in 1983, Dr Chakraborty of Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C) had initiated research on using Indian values in management in India. Though the base was drawn from Hindu religious books, he made it into a secular affair.

    Dr C stressed upon the importance of mind and thought control through the use of secular techniques like concentration & meditation. His theory was that a mind under control would be a self-compassionate mind.

    I have practiced those teachings ever since, and find that most of the time (unless I slip up, after all I am human), I end up being successful. I have delivered all the time, and I am liked by most colleagues, past & present.
    I hope that this concept of mindful leadership where east meet west will come out with some fruitful results that can benefit every individual. As far as Emotional Intelligence is concerned, yes I do agree that it will play a very crucial role in present era. Today pressure is increasing day by day on both employees and employers in every organization and there is need of maintaining balance between internal and external environment of individuals. From here role of awareness of what an individual really wants and role of people/environment surrounding him/her become significant and there importance of Mindful leadership can be realised.

    The eternal balance between what is happening in our surroundings outside and whatever is going on inside our mind is required for enhancing competencies. Emotional intelligence is significant in case of situations of tremendous pressure and where more of presence of mind is required than high level of academic qualification only. The level of job satisfaction is also influenced by it as until we don't know what we really want, we will have always state of dissatisfaction and instability with no end of desires and that leads finally to dishonesty. Meditation helps us in that phase by finding the real locus of control inside us and that need to be focused. Self awareness helps at both levels either in groups or teams or to individual. In current era of technology and science we have lost our values, virtues and vision and living a life that is no more than of machine. There meditations helps us in wiping out the negative thoughts and mental blocks with a space to openness to others thoughts and reduces rigidity. I hope this fusion of studies and practices of east and west will help in bringing values that will spread across the cultures, boundaries and reach to summit at the end.

    With best wishes,
    Shivani Tiwari
    • Munjal Kamdar
    • Principal, CSI
    I have worked in North America for 7 years and a similar period in India. One of the difference I have observed amongst business leaders is the concept of time. Indians (and I would say the East) perception of time is much more elaborate than Westerners. Therefore time frame while making business decisions is also longer. For e.g. if a hiring decision is involved, the Western concept would be to hire someone at a high salary and see if he / she works out within a 6 month time frame and take a decision to fire accordingly. I have practiced the same during my last 7 years there. In contrast when I was first posted to North America, I was not given any time frame. I was asked to learn about the market by my boss in India and then build a business accordingly. I still made the business work within 18 months but the approach was different. Don't get me wrong, it is not that the Western approach does not have merits (the difference in li
    ving infrastructure will tell you what are it's strengths) but it is important to understand the difference in thinking.

    All the best to William George and Yongey Rinpoche!

    Best Regards,
    Munjal Kamdar
    • Sivachidambaram V
    • HP
    I heard Bill George speaking about 'The Authentic Leader' in one of the podcasts and from then I started looking for this trait in all the leaders I meet.

    There is a big difference between the way East and West thinks and the business world will benefit when we bring them together as they complement each other.
    • Emmanuel Duru
    • Team Leader Credit Monitoring, Finbank Plc
    Mindful Leadership is exceptional and brilliant theory. Thank you Prof. Bill George.

    However, many questions will arise : How would it confict or resolve in real terms the dilemmas of Leadership vis a vis the various multiplicity of norms, values, cultures, race, environment, structure, style and organization, etc.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if all nations and states would imbibe this concept? The whole world will know no wars.
    If Leaders could be Mindful of themselves, genuine compassion will prevail in all dealings.

    Emmanuel Duru
    • Rachael Ross
    • Leadership Coach, Rachael Ross Coaching
    Excellent to see a piece pushing out our thinking re leadership.
    I have incorporated a number of mindfulness practices into my coaching and leadership development approach.

    I believe that the power of reflection, and resilience - the ability to return to "True North" quickly in turbulent times - is underrated as yet, but in fact is critical to great leadership.
    • Juan Miranda
    • Senior Consultant, Protiviti
    I have read the article, and I would say that it touched on some very good ideas. It is perplexing that these ideas are already inherently known to us, yet some of us fail to practice this "mindfulness." Is emotional intelligence the explanation for this disconnect? Why is it so hard for some to practice this mindfulness?

    What is it about the human psyche that makes us myopic in vision? There are those that only look to satisfy their needs, and they fail to acknowledge/consider the needs of others. There are those of us who claim to be good listeners, but we are not active listeners. There are so many underlying issues that one must overcome to attain this "mindful" state. It requires a great amount of energy, time, and commitment.

    This was definitely thought provoking. It is aligned with what I am studying in my Conflict Management class. I would like to recommend a book that is aimed at helping others recognize one's own needs (self awareness) and the needs of others (awareness of others). Please note, this topic of awareness is only one of many elements that support the overall idea of the book: collaboration. It is called: "The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution: Preserving Relationships at Work, at Home, and in the Community." The author is Dr. Dudley Weeks. Although not directly related, there are some elements in the book that correlate with the ideas of this article.