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Supporting Relationality with Leader Mindfulness: Exploring Leaders’ Experiences with Mindfulness Practice, Integrative Thinking and Sustainable Happiness.

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Title: Supporting Relationality with Leader Mindfulness: Exploring Leaders’ Experiences with Mindfulness Practice, Integrative Thinking and Sustainable Happiness.
Author: Bhojani, Zahra
Department: Department of Management
Program: Management
Advisor: Kurucz, Elizabeth
Abstract: The UN Decade of Action (2020-2030) is a call for leaders in all sectors of society to engage in ambitious efforts on three levels to meet the objectives of Agenda 2030: global action, local action, and people action. Despite pressing global challenges of sustainability, many leaders do not have the capacity required to make decisions that promote individual, organizational, and societal flourishing. Mindfulness research in the Management discipline has demonstrated positive effects of this practice in terms of benefits to the individual, however, whether leaders can leverage their mindfulness practice to support societal level benefits is not well understood. This thesis explores leaders’ experiences with mindfulness practice to address this important gap in the academic and practitioner literature. A conceptual model for the research was developed through a systematic review of relevant literature. This model was then empirically explored with 41 leaders from five countries using a qualitative, inductive analysis research method. The main contribution of this research is a deeper understanding of how mindfulness practice enables the transition of leader perspectives from an individual (personal, organizational) perspective to a more holistic societal (relational, ecological) perspective that supports integrative thinking and sustainable happiness. Key findings include how leaders who practiced mindfulness transitioned from an initial experience of more effective decision making to a broader moral deliberation with increased integrative thinking capacities. Leaders also described enhanced resilience as an individual benefit of mindfulness practice and experienced relational connections and the ethic of care required for sustainable happiness through regular practice. Based on the empirical analysis, a grounded model of Leader Mindfulness for Sustainability was developed. Implications of mindfulness practice for leaders in social innovation are that it promotes receptivity for sensing an emerging future; fosters imagination for integrative thinking and moral deliberation; enhances leader resilience to ‘stay with the trouble’ of sustainability; and supports relational connections through care and ecosystem thinking. The findings of this research deepen our understanding of mindfulness in the workplace as a moral, relational practice that helps to develop leadership capabilities to advance societal flourishing.
Date: 2022-04-22
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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