Tranquility and common good, anyone? Mindfulness can help cope with challenges in working life

Newswise — At work, mindfulness, ‘awareness of the present moment’, benefits not only the individual but the entire work community, emerges in Laura Urrila’s doctoral thesis on human resource management. When an individual participates in mindfulness training, the implications extend to the broader work community.

– Leaders who practice mindfulness are more present, give space to others, seek to understand the perspectives and emotional states of others, and act for the greater good, says Laura Urrilawho will publicly defend his dissertation at the University of Vaasa on Friday, December 9.

In Urrila’s doctoral research, leaders participated in an eight-week mindfulness program. Participants found simple mindfulness practices and learnings, such as mindful breathing, calming imagery, and a compassionate attitude, helpful in their daily work that involved constant interaction with team members.

– Interestingly, many leaders and supervisors immediately wanted to share their learning and introduce mindfulness practices to their team members in both individual and team meetings, even though they had no previous experience with the topic or how it might be applied. in daily leadership work, highlights Urrila.

Leaders are interested in mindfulness

In recent years, mindfulness has become popular in working life, especially among leaders and leadership development professionals. Leadership—managing people—is about motivating others and caring about the needs of others.

Urrila sought to investigate whether mindfulness could help leaders tap into their other orientation and support leaders in their role of leading others. Interviewees described their desire to ensure the well-being and development of their team members. At the same time, they found the job of leadership challenging in many ways; Supervisors are often burdened with heavy workloads, difficult labor relations, and problems with team performance.

– Although there seems to be a will, viable strategies and tools to participate in good leadership may be lacking, sums up Urrila.

The ability to be present is good leadership: awareness is a skill that can be practiced

Urrila’s research confirms that the ability to be present and aware is part of good leadership and that it can be practiced. Leadership development is not easy because it happens over time as part of adult maturation and involves a willingness to engage in self-reflection. It may be necessary to develop oneself first, as “you cannot give from an empty cup”.

Urrila’s research finds that the practice of mindfulness develops a leader’s self-awareness and supports the ability to care for and develop oneself. According to Urrila, a positive personal experience of training and practicing mindfulness is the key factor that motivates leaders to apply mindfulness in their work. The research highlights the view that the most effective form of leadership development is a combination of a formal program and ongoing self-development.

Laura Urrila examined the experiences of leaders who participated in a mindfulness training program, from a qualitative longitudinal intervention approach. Data for analysis were collected from 62 leaders. The materials comprise 62 pre-intervention written assessments and 62 post-intervention interviews. The dissertation consists of three articles that contribute to the literature on mindfulness and leadership by increasing understanding of how learning mindfulness can help leaders in social relationships and in their role of leading others. The findings are particularly useful to human resource managers and development professionals in evaluating and selecting leadership development interventions.


Urrila, Laura (2022). Being (com)being others-oriented: The value of mindfulness for leaders and leadership development. Wasaensia Act 499. Dissertation. Vasa University.

pdf publication

public defense

The public examination of the doctoral thesis of M.Sc., MA Laura Urrila “Being (com)other-oriented: The value of mindfulness for leaders and leadership developmentIt will be carried out in kurten auditorium at the University of Vaasa at noon in friday december 9. Prof. (emer.) Iiris Aaltio (University of Jyväskylä) will act as opponent and Prof. Liisa Mäkelä as custodian. The defense will be conducted in Finnish.


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