Mindfulness meditation is no longer only within the purview of monks and yoga instructors. It is now practiced by millions of people, has been the subject of more than 4,000 academic studies, and is practiced by celebrities as varied as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Jordan, and Ray Dalio. It has successfully helped people reduce stress, improve creativity, and escape many of the productivity problems associated with being unconsciously lost in thought.
But can it help improve the results of teams in organizations? In their Harvard Business Review article, “What mindfulness can do for a team,” professors Lingtao Yu and Mary Zellmer-Bruhn studied its impact on organizational performance. During their research, for example, they found that when Phil Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers he introduced mindfulness to both teams and credited it as an ingredient in their 11 NBA championships.
In the business environment, Yu and Zellmer-Bruhn found that with greater mindfulness the number of relational conflicts goes down and that it holds promise in helping teams with diverse knowledge and different functional backgrounds to focus better as groups and achieve greater synergies with less aggravation. Increasingly, companies are offering mindfulness to employees, including Google, Aetna, LinkedIn, and Ford, to help their employees be more productive in our age of ever-present multi-tasking.
While the ability to be mindful as a team could produce an important advantage, mindfulness meditation has also been shown to be an effective personal leadership capability. That is, meditating bosses, through their mindful demeaner, are more likely to help their team members act more mindfully as well.
Getting started is easy and learning to Meditate doesn’t have to take a lot of time. There are many mindfulness apps. For example, philosopher Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” app helps people learn and practice mindfulness meditation in only 10 minutes per day.
Who knows? Your invisible edge might only be one breath away.