Leadership, Mindfulness and Sustainability: What’s the Connection?

Leadership, Mindfulness and Sustainability: What’s the Connection?

Sustainability. It’s become a pervasive buzzword. For many people, the word elicits thoughts of recycling cans and bottles, lining the roof with solar panels, or buying eco-friendly products.

While these are indeed all sustainable practices Associate Professor of Management Richard Peregoy, D.P.S., provides a more comprehensive definition: “To me it simply means leaving the earth and all sentient beings in a better place than how I found it, in every way shape and form.”

Peregoy and Associate Professor Greg Bell, Ph.D., along with Eleftheria Egel, DBA, Ph.D., have been researching the intersection of sustainability and mindfulness in order to gather insights into how leaders can foster environmentally responsible thinking in their organizations.

“Mindfulness is awareness of the present. And the present state of the environment is unsustainable. The fully allocated social costs of sustainability remain largely avoided. This cannot continue indefinitely.”

There’s a growing understanding of the scarcity of the world’s resources, but there’s also a growing understanding of the positive role organizations can play in promoting sustainable business practices. Peregoy, Egel and Bell’s research highlights the important role that business leaders play in long term sustainability.

So how do leaders practice environmentally responsible thinking and activity in their organizations?

Implement Mindfulness

Mindfulness, awareness, offers leaders the opportunity to assess one’s values, giving them space and time to realign their personal and professional values. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase empathy, compassion, and the ability to relate to others. People in management and leadership who practice mindfulness are more likely to pursue goals that benefit all – people and environment.

Redefine Leadership Education

Historically, leadership teaching and training has been confined to defining business problems in terms of dollars and cents. What’s the net profit? What’s the impact to the stock? Instead, truly sustainable decisions will be evaluated based on impacts to the people, profit, and planet, the 3P model. Organizations leading the charge in sustainable business practices, such as Whole Foods, have already adopted such models.

Leadership education needs to reflect this shift, which is why this research has already impacted Peregoy and Bell’s classrooms at the University of Dallas.

“We feel that education plays a key role in growing sustainability,” said Peregoy.  

Starting this fall, each of Peregoy’s classes will incorporate sustainable business applications that encourage leaders and managers to use mindfulness to pursue business decisions based on the impact to people, profit, and planet.

Learn more about sustainable leadership at the University of Dallas.

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