Can Meditation Make You a Better Manager?

A friend sent me an interesting New York Times article by Sindya N. Bhanoo called How Meditation May Change the Brain. Since I love reading about neuroscience – and pretty much science in general – I settled in for a pleasant read with nary a thought about Work Coach Cafe, careers or any facet of the workplace.  Then I saw this paragraph:

“The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. “

Measurable changes? I already knew that meditation is thought to have numerous health and life benefits, but science is now telling us it can visibly change our brains?

It suddenly struck me… if this were true and managers throughout the world were to add daily meditation to their workday, the world could become a much better place. And I’ll even go so far as to say commercial enterprise as a whole, world-wide, would become more profitable due to resulting economies of scale in the net savings derived. Or at least everyone would be a lot happier. 😉

Let’s take it one by one:

Better memory – How many times has a boss forgotten something and blamed it on an employee – or made someone else rush to clean up the mess? Think of the dollars wasted, not to mention the emotional toll. Heck…even having your boss remember all you do would be kinda nice. (OK. I don’t really think daily meditation can cure all memory problems, but certainly couldn’t hurt.)

Sense of self – Bully bosses are just one category of bosses with low self esteem. And we all know the pain of being trapped in the land of indecision by a wishy-washy boss.  A boss with a good balanced sense of self can make all the difference between a workplace that rocks and roils with every mood or whim, and one that actually can focus on its mission – and keep good talent from leaving.

Empathy – One of the most important traits a true leader can possess.  Although some will argue it gets in the way of tough decisions, I think empathy allows hard decisions to be made in a way that the long-term health of both companies and employees is preserved. Great leaders know imagining what it feels like to be in another person’s shoes and factoring that in to their decisions can be a powerful transformative workplace tool.

Stress – No one benefits when managers are stressed out – especially workers who in turn get stressed upon. Keeping a workplace at permanent high-intensity is a recipe for organizational burnout – as well as endless errors and clean-up.  Whether it’s daily meditation or some other means, finding a way to routinely de-stress a workplace is a worthy goal. Managers as well as employees benefit from taking it down a notch or two.

So Is Meditation the Answer?

I guess it depends on what the question is.

The article that started me thinking uses the word “may” in its title, since no one study is conclusive – and even a group of studies can give false positives. But that said, I’m a big fan of meditation (when I remember to actually do it…ahem) and would certainly love to see what would happen if businesses throughout the world decided to give it a try. Would there indeed be tangible and even measurable wide-scale workplace effects from daily practice?

Just something fun to ponder. What do you think?

Articles related to workplace stress

Zen at Work: Some Thoughts About Mindfulness

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Is It Your Job or YOU That’s Driving You Crazy?

More Health and Stress Management articles

Empathy and leadership articles you might enjoy:

James T. Kirk: Great Leader of Enterprise or Empty Vessel?

5 Reasons to Develop Your Empathy

About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Great post, Ronnie Ann! Regarding the power of meditation, Howard Stern, of all unlikely people, is a huge believer. He was won over by seeing the huge changes it made in his mother. She apparently called him after she’d been doing meditation for a few weeks, and he said he almost didn’t recognize the calm, relaxed, positive person talking to him on the phone as his mother.

  2. Thanks for your comment and visit, Terry! I caught Howard on Letterman talking about that. Having worked with him for a while (long story I’m not telling), he’s actually careful about what he eats and takes things like meditation and mind-body healing seriously. So hard to gel with his radio persona. But that’s a blog unto itself I think!

  3. Well, that’s a fascinating little tid-bit about Mr. Stern…but we digress! I meditate myself, and have read many studies about it, but none as yours referred to has demonstrated “physical” changes in the brain! That’s kind of exciting, and not, after all, surprising.
    How about this story? While its not necessarily Work Coach related, I think it complements your blog post. I liked your post, as I’d not thought of meditation relating to management in that way.

  4. Hi Muse! Thanks for the visit and comment. You may one day hear more of that Stern story…but not on this blog. 😉 BTW…tried to get to the linked story but it tells me it doesn’t exist or I don’t exist or some such thing. Hope you’re doing well.

    ~ Ronnie Ann

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