Why Mindfulness Is an Important Tool for Working in Business

Why Mindfulness Is an Important Tool for Working in Business main image

To be a strong, decisive business leader, it’s important to have strong decision-making skills. Being able to avoid wrong moves that will adversely affect your business, or your career is crucial if you want to maintain an upward trajectory.

So, how do you teach decision-making? Few leaders receive formal training, and it’s often thought the only way to really develop this skill is through trial and error – hardly the most ideal way to learn.

However, there is something you can do. Mindfulness may sound like an “out there” concept more fitting for the yoga studio, but it can actually be a great technique to help improve your decision-making abilities. This is why INSEAD has started incorporating mindfulness training into its MBA programs.

According to Natalia Karelaia, Associate Professor of Decision Sciences at INSEAD, this once esoteric idea is now becoming more generally accepted in the mainstream. Meditation and other mindfulness practices are being introduced in corporations worldwide (for example at Apple, Google, Nike and more), and the trend is only expected to continue. Leaders who want to remain at the forefront of progressive ideas are wise to consider the value of mindfulness as a business tool.

Making mindful decisions

So, what makes mindfulness such an important tool for business decision-making? Simply put, it’s all about awareness. Remaining mindful means you’re present – conscious of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment.

By using mindfulness, the decision-making process becomes a thoughtful, cognitive exercise, rather than an impulsive reaction to immediate needs. Analysis of mindfulness research shows that this kind of heightened awareness allows for:

  • More creative problem-solving
  • An improved ability to recognize the limits of your knowledge
  • The ability to identify early on any decisions that need to be made
  • More thorough ethical evaluation
  • An improved ability to identify trade-offs and unintended consequences of potential decisions

Ultimately, those who practice mindfulness in the workplace are more capable of aligning their intentions with their behaviors — a key trait for gaining respect as a leader.

How to master mindfulness

Meditation has long been considered the primary strategy for building mindfulness. Randel S. Carlock, INSEAD Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership says, “Meditation creates space in one’s mind to think.” 

As well as improving decision-making, meditation can help reduce stress, improve clarity and focus, and enhance your physical well-being.

Doing meditation is easier than some people think. In fact, Carlock suggests making it part of your life by setting aside a simple five minutes of mindfulness at both the start and end of your day. Then, cultivate the habit as you become comfortable with it.

Strange as it may sound, incorporating meditation into day-to-day work life may also have a positive impact on the bottom line. From better decisions to greater emotional intelligence and higher morale, this simple tool can dramatically improve the overall work experience for every employee at all levels.

Carlock has also brought meditation to the classroom. Students of the INSEAD MBA programs not only learn how to use mindfulness in the decision-making process, but also experience it first-hand. Like anything, it requires practice. Learning to do this successfully in a training environment improves students’ ability to leverage the skill in the real world.

Your mind is a powerful tool, but people seldom give it the space it needs to really process information fully. Master mindfulness and you’ll be able to reflect more deeply on important decisions and come to better conclusions.

Learn more about studying at INSEAD.

Written by Craig OCallaghan

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