Mindful Leader

A new generation of business leaders is turning to mindfulness as a cutting-edge leadership tool. Scientific research suggests that the practice of mindfulness (a technique for learning to live in the present moment) can help individuals to gain clarity, reduce stress, optimize performance, and develop a greater sense of well-being.

In The Mindful Leader, Michael Carroll explains what mindfulness is and how to develop it in the hectic and often stressful environment of the twenty-first century workplace. He focuses on ten key principles of mindfulness and how they apply to leading groups and organizations. Along the way, Carroll addresses a range of topics, including how to:

  • heal the “toxic workplace,” where anxiety and stress impede performance
  • cultivate courage and confidence in the face of workplace difficulties
  • pursue organizational goals without neglecting what’s happening here and now
  • lead with wisdom and gentleness, not just with ambition and power
  • start a personal meditation practice to develop your innate leadership talents

Full of engaging stories and practical exercises, The Mindful Leader will help leaders in any field to discover their innate intelligence, bravery, and joy on the job.


Michael Carroll worked for 25 years on Wall Street and in the publishing industry; he is the author of Awake at Work. He is a longtime student of Buddhist meditation and an authorized teacher in the lineage of the Tibetan master Chogyam Trungpa.

In this bold and revealing work, Carroll delves into the relevance of meditation to the workplace and the dynamics of leadership. In a chapter titled "Opening Up to Workplace Realities," he looks at the contrast between the "top-down" leadership of business where the milieu is one of a pressure-cooker versus leadership from the inside where the emphasis is upon bringing out the best in everyone. One of the qualities behind the latter, mindful leadership, is a vulnerable openness, which the Tibetan Buddhists call jinpa, complete generosity. It means giving ourselves to others without "making ridiculous demands or placing lids on situations."

Opening up is just the beginning step. We must also set aside our self-deceptions that stem from arrogance, aggression, and fear. They include chasing false hopes, giving in to the traps of blame and praise, living under the illusion of security, and continuing in stale routines. Carroll believes that the regular practice of mindfulness meditation can generate ten leadership principles: simplicity, poise, respect, courage, confidence, enthusiasm, patience, awareness, skillfulness, and humility. Cultivating these principles on the cushion can lead to further competencies that create health and well-being in organizations, such as building trust, eliminating toxicity, sending clear messages, and healing wounds.

Carroll contends that a mindful leader demonstrates an inner authenticity that comes across in four marks: elegance, command, gentleness, and intelligence. The final chapter contains some "Practices and Exercises" for cultivating mindful leadership. We were very impressed with "The Thirty Reminders of the Mindful Leader" inspired by the teachings of the Tibetan master Gyalsay Togme Sangpo (1295 -1369). - By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Reading Michael Carroll's book and attending his weekend retreat earlier this year turned around my attitude at the office, prepared me well for several looming crises at work, and nearly saved my life. His book Mindful Leadership is essential for anyone trying to lead successfully in today's world of information overload, anti-rationalism, and blind decision-making. It is equally helpful for a business leader, public servant, diplomat or aid worker, NGO or community organizer. Rather than give advice on what to do when, he teaches us that mindful leadership means being open and synchronized--which allows us to tap into our own natural goodness and wisdom that is already in our environment and telling us how to lead…..
Michael's writing style successfully combines unparalleled business experience with the thousand-year-old wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism, without being too strong (or weak) on either. This book reads very much like Chögyam Trungpa's Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior--very down to earth and practical, yet based on deep wisdom from one of humankind's oldest spiritual paths. - By Robert Birkenes | US Diplomat in Jamaica

Medical Research has shown that mindfulness is a key path to human sustainability, to maximize cognitive and emotional functioning. This book will guide you in how to be a better leader. Beyond that it is a primer in how to be a better person. Read this book – it could save your organization, your career and your life!” - Professor Richard Boyatzis, Case Western University, coauthor of Primal Leadership and Resonant Leadership

"While most business books focus on how readers can do more, better and faster, this welcome addition to the category is about taking a moment to pause and reflect. Carroll, a Buddhist-trained HR executive with many years of experience in both the corporate and Zen worlds, emphasizes the renewal and perspective that can result from taking some time out. By the end, stressed-out executives may be willing to read about how to give meditation a try as a way to reconnect with themselves and become more open to their colleagues." - Publishers Weekly

Mindful Leader by Michael Carroll is masterful at showing us, in eminently practical ways, how to reconnect with sanity, balance and genuineness. This is not just for "leaders," but for anyone who aspires to develop their skill at working with themselves and others. Given the pressures of the workplace, many of us lose perspective and get stressed out - here is a book to help you excel at work and enjoy it too. Highly recommended! - Chris Morrow , Owner Manager Northshire Bookstore  

Leaders and aspiring leaders everywhere, rush out… to buy The Mindful Leader: Ten Principles for Bringing Out the Best in Ourselves and Others, by Michael Carroll. This is where leadership theory and practice is going. Carroll leads us deep inside ourselves to reveal the ten talents necessary for leadership success. And if you are still resisting meditation as a means of attaining mindfulness, and extraordinary performance as a leader, Carroll may well be the person who brings you to your senses. I love this book! - David M. Traversi, Former CEO of PRE Solutions, Inc. and author of The Source of Leadership