Virtuous organisations exist, all over the world, according to authors Gerald R. Wagner and Graham Williams, in their research from around the world – Brazil, USA, India, Netherlands, Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey.

A virtuous business is an organisation where employees model the highest aspirations of human kind and the authors believe that leaders are in a position to affect the sustained cultural changes that lead to more deeply mindful practice and operations.

One key finding from their research is that true business mindfulness comes from an appreciation of connectivity; That for every action there is a consequence and that for every consequence comes further actions and scenarios. With this in mind, every thought, decision and action makes a difference. So the mindful organisation is one in which ethos and values are the driver, more than the rules and behaviours that govern process and the boundaries in which decisions are made.

“The psychology and sociology of ethics has a powerful bearing on how people behave in ethical situations. Virtue ethics, emphasises the character, motivation, and intention of the decision maker. It looks at ethics from an agent-based perspective, not an action-based perspective. It addresses characteristics of the decision maker’s personality rather than particular actions or consequences of actions. Faced with an ethical situation, the spiritually mindful person is aware and discerning, identifies the issue clearly and understands the bigger picture, and decides to act courageously on a virtuous basis – irrespective of any negative pressures arising from the organisational context.”

This position could be challenged as being quite idealistic in pressured, contemporary business, but if you consider the success stories of companies practicing what’s called ‘conscientious capitalism’ then the opportunities become fascinating.

In their article, Wagner and Williams share the three elements of the conscientious capitalism model: Interconnected, interdependent systems; Holistic wealth; Multiple generation view of time.

This model is truly a thing of beauty for those seeking to become more mindful in their business activities. It demonstrates (as shown by brands like Patagonia and Green Mountain Coffee) that profit and mindfulness can happily coexist, and in fact can mutually support each other to help deliver a higher purpose.

How will you enable and lead a more mindful ethos in your organisation?