Developing leaders’ self-awareness – research themes and possible outcomes

Developing leaders’ self-awareness through mindfulness -based contemplative practices

This is a doctoral dissertation project in Turku University, Leadership and Entrepreneurship department. We ask how leaders experience that mindfulness or meditation practice has impacted on their leadership.

Emotional and ethical awareness

Developing emotional or ethical awareness in leadership – through mindfulness -based contemplative practices. Is it possible?


Focus is Power

Cognitive scientists have known for a couple of decades that the brain is capable of significant internal change in reaction to environmental changes, a dramatic finding when it was first made. We now also know that the brain changes as a function of where an individual puts his or her attention. The power is in the attention because it continually reshapes the patterns of the brain. (Sethi, D. (2009), “Mindful leadership”, Leader to Leader, Vol. 51, Winter, pp. 7-11.)

Emotional Intelligence

Mindfulness is generally understood as intentional, compassionate, and non-judgmental attentiveness to the present moment (Baer 2003; Condon et al. 2013; Kabat-Zinn 1990), which is associated with greater emotional intelligence (Schutte and Malou 2011).

Better decisions and less stress

Extant literature also reveals that mindfulness has an impact on a variety of organizational outcomes. Practicing mindfulness allows business leaders to make better decisions, acquire more self-confidence, experience less anxiety about others’ perceptions, better cope with stress, be open to new ideas, engage in fewer judgments, and demonstrate more creativity (Dalai Lama and van den Muyzenberg 2008; Dhiman 2009).

What is mindfulness practice?

 Multitude of practices exist to cultivate mindfulness. Some mindfulness programs are based on meditation techniques, which focus on awareness of the body, the mind, and sensations, and use the breath as an anchor.

Mindfulness may also be combined with physical techniques such as yoga and tai chi, or with other day-to-day activities such as walking, eating, cleaning – in fact, with anything happening in the present moment (Brown and Ryan 2003; Kabat-Zinn 2005).