Tom Bateman



Tom Bateman

‘Leadership’, like ‘mindfulness’, is a term often used, but seldom clearly defined. Tom Bateman—Professor in the McIntire School of Commerce—combines these two ideas, guiding his students in the process of mindfully making leadership decisions. Dr. Bateman is very clear, however, that for his work mindful leadership is not based on an amorphously-defined subjective awareness of one’s own mental states, but rather “thinking consciously about how to make rational decisions.” Often people make decisions thoughtlessly, defaulting to various habitual methods rather than having a genuine awareness of the situation born through careful thought and consideration. Through teaching students to avoid a reactive style of management, Dr. Bateman wants to create leaders who before responding to a given situation, “pause and take some notes to self about a certain topic and how it pertains to them.”

The mindful leadership Dr. Bateman offers his students has at its foundation a conscious focus on long-term considerations not only for themselves, but for those around them as well. When planning and implementing leadership decisions, he encourages students to “take a balanced approach that considers multiple stakeholders in ways that help people adapt to their current circumstances and influence environments, in ways that consider long-term and short-term consequences.” Dr. Bateman’s research has fueled much of his conception of mindful leadership; he explains that an important component of effective leadership considers long-term as well as short-term thinking. Leaders should make a point of thinking about long-term consequences of their choices, and about what their choices say about them and what they consider important. While the mindful awareness found in traditional models of contemplation does not play an explicit role in Dr. Bateman’s explanations of leadership, he reminds students that mindfulness in leadership requires they be “fully aware of what your goals are and think about what multiple alternatives might be.”

Ultimately, Dr. Bateman sees training in mindful leadership as an important component in bridging the gaps between differing fields, telling students, “most of the world’s problems are broad, whereas most people’s attention is deep and narrow. Therefore, people can’t make decisions by default, but must make them mindfully.” In focusing on student leaders across a variety of disciplines, Dr. Bateman asserts, “I teach ideas and procedures that are available to anyone, starting with the need to think rather than act mindlessly.”