Meditational practices help leaders make better decisions for the future of their companies. This is a conclusion from a recent research of Maurizio Zollo, Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at Bocconi University. According to Prof. Zollo
“Meditative practices have significant effect on decisions and stress and in building a sustainability mindset”.
What is a “sustainability mindset”? Sustainability mindset is a matter of caring for the common good, not only what is good about me and my company, but also for the society and for the environment. Another component is the long-term view - thinking about the long-term consequences of my decisions.
There is a lot of research that shows that meditational practice reduces the level of stress, says Prof. Zollo in the online course of Bocconi University “Corporate Sustainability. Understanding and Seizing the Strategic Opportunity”. According to him stress has this particular effect that it reduces the time horizon and makes you think about today, makes you think about your own personal interest, think in a very narrow way, prevents you from thinking about new ways of doing things, from innovation.
What does meditation have to do with sustainability, innovation and the long-term success of an organisation? Prof. Zollo did series of experiments in collaboration with neuroscientists and psychologists, management and sustainability experts. The experiments were looking at most effective ways to develop and nurture the sustainability mindset. They test the effects from different practices - some with specifically designed neuro-cognitive trainings, some with various meditational practices and a control group, who got no training. These experiments were done with students , managers in large multinational companies and with entrepreneurs.
Which method had the greatest effect on sustainable thinking? To the surprise of the scientists, it was not the cognitive trainings in sustainability, which of course did better than having no training at all, but the meditational practices that outperformed across the board.
“Meditation lead to making better decisions about the future. Also positive results achieved in the willingness to cooperate. Mediations lead to broadening of self and willingness to make the best for the long run. Ethical dimension also increased in the group with meditational training.”, said Prof. Zollo.
Gender equality as investment for the future
So what about women? Women take care more than men about issues such as the environment, the protection of environment, ecological thinking, social issues, culture and long-term horizon, claims the associate professor Paola Profetta from Bocconi University in the same sustainability course. All these encourage sustainability of the organisation, she adds. “We also know that sustainability nurtures a culture of values, which is fundamental to gender equality. So promoting gender equality policy is not only something which is good in terms of rights, but it is also a very important investment. It’s a great investment for the future, for a sustainable economy, a sustainable society and overall for a better world and a better life.”
And there it is: if you want a successful ethical and sustainable business in the long-run, then hire more women managers who meditate.
The caveat is always that real life is much more complex than a controlled scientific experiment. Still, looking at the practices of highly successful people we should not take these results lightly. Not long ago Satia Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, interviewed the CEO of Headspace Andi PuddiCombe about integrating the popular meditation app in Microsoft Teams. The CEO of Huffington Post Ariana Huffington is also a fan of mediation. Ray Dalio, the founder of the largest hedge fund on the world is quoted to say: “Meditation has probably been the single most important reason for whatever success I’ve had.” The list goes on with Opray Whinfrey and Bill Gates…
Will a day come when our morning ritual in the (home) office will start with team meditational practices - for the good of ourselves, own company and for the better of our community?
Victory Corners 2020, by Victoriya V. Blazheva
P.S. The author of this article has a "love and indifference" relationship with meditation through her annual subscription to Headspace. She is willing to give it another try after attending the online class of Prof. Zollo:)