A CEO and client of mine once quit a job when, through mindfulness practice, he realised how misaligned his personal values were with some of the practices the company was engaged in. He actively sought out a company that would incorporate and personify his personal values so he wouldn’t have to put on a ‘work mask’. He was disengaged from his company and job not because of the pay and benefits, but because company values didn’t reflect what mattered most to him.
The secret to high performance and satisfaction is the deeply human need for freedom, growth and creativity, and to make our world a better place.
It’s simply not exciting, inspiring or meaningful for people to work hard to increase ‘shareholder value’. Such over-arching goals proclaimed so often in the corporate world do not inspire people to give their best.
More than a salary
People are looking for more than a salary from their work. They want work that engages their whole selves, not just their minds, but their hearts as well. They want work that fulfils social needs and is therefore meaningful and psychologically rewarding. People want to view their work as a calling. In fact, MBA Graduates Want to Work for Caring and Ethical Employers — a study of 11 leading US and European business schools —finds that 97% of MBA graduates said they were willing to forgo financial benefits (14% of expected income on average) to work with a conscious business with a better reputation for corporate social responsibility and ethics.
Mindful leaders tap into and awaken our innermost yearnings for meaning and purpose. They create a mindful vision for their teams and organisations, which is a vision focused on making a positive difference and alleviating suffering in the world—doing something that is good for everyone, not just something that makes shareholders wealthy at the expense of other people or the planet. A mindful vision makes people whole again and awakens the best in them. When we know our organisation is making a positive difference, it opens our hearts to be present with the purpose of the business.
When it comes to considering what a mindful vision for a leader or organisation looks like, it’s a rather simple criteria: Does the vision and underlying intent of our organisation support connection, wellbeing, joy and love for ourselves and all our stakeholders? Does our core purpose support mindfulness, as defined by a deep sense of heartfelt engagement and presence? Or does it stand in the way of engagement, thus leading to disengaged employees with a sense of alienation, disconnection and suffering.
Global workplace engagement
The statistics on global workplace engagement suggest we have a lot of work to do in this area. According to a 142-country study performed by Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, engaged employees being defined as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace”. In other words, only about 1 in 8 workers are psychologically committed to their jobs. 63% of workers are classified as “not engaged,” meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organisational goals or outcomes, while 24% are “actively disengaged”, meaning they are unhappy and unproductive at work and likely to spread negativity in the workplace.
Inspiring people with an authentic mindful vision is one of the most important things a leader can do to boost engagement. A mindful vision is about creating an organisation that people can connect emotionally with, and in doing so their lives are enriched, more meaningful and worthwhile. Mindful vision awakens the best in us by reconnecting us with what is most important, and in doing so makes it so much easier to be engaged and present at work.
When we connect our livelihood to making a positive difference for others, we are much more engaged and happy in our work.