Mindfulness and Leadership: A Critical Reflection

Servaas van Beekum


This paper critically highlights the history and the current use of the concept of mindfulness, from its Buddhist roots via medical application and organizational consulting into its application as a management tool. The paper puts the concept of mindfulness in its historical context, mentions some of the controversies the ‘brand of mindfulness’ has stirred and prefers the term ‘being mindful’ over ‘mindfulness’. However, as Stolarov (1992) argued: the mind in isolation is a myth. The mind itself is social and relational in such a way that the intrapsychic inner world is directly related to the relational context in which it is embedded. In consulting and management, being mindful is, beyond an individual process of growth and development, also relational, recognizing that there are two or more entities working in a mutual and reciprocal process.

Once we apply ‘being mindful’ on professionals in organizations it is clear that this can improve the wellbeing of leaders, managers and staff and the overall effectiveness of an organization. In the organizational literature the concept of ‘deep thinking’ is explored in marketing and sales. The paper promotes, explores and elaborates the concept of being mindful, including deep thinking, as essential for practical and spiritual aspects of organizational and corporate life, in particular for the transformational tasks of leaders and managers. Eight characteristics of mindful leadership are elaborated.

Finally the potential parallel process of the rise of mindfulness and transactional analysis, stands out as a warning.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/bms.v2i1.1190


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Business and Management Studies     ISSN 2374-5916 (Print)     ISSN 2374-5924 (Online)

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