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General Mills Leadership Program Helps Train the Mind


General Mills has consistently ranked among the top companies in the world for the leadership training it offers employees. One reason the company has consistently fared so well is because it has aggressively pioneered the use and development of cutting-edge leadership programs like the Mindful Leadership Program series.

The courses use a combination of mindfulness meditation, yoga and dialog to get leaders to develop the mind’s capacity to pay attention – both to themselves and others – and to more clearly see what is happening in their lives.

Since the program began in 2006, more than 140 officers and directors have gone through the four-day core course – “Cultivating Leadership Presence through Mindfulness” – that is typically held at an offsite rural retreat site. And another 150 have attended the other courses – “Catching Lightning: Innovation and Mindfulness” or “Mindful Leadership at Work.”

Optimizing productivity

After the Mindful Leadership at Work course (one session a week for seven weeks), survey research completed in 2009 showed that:

  • 83 percent of participants said they often “take time each day to optimize my personal productivity” – up from 23 percent who said that before taking the course.
  • 82 percent said they often “make time on most days to eliminate some tasks/meetings with limited productivity value” – up from 32 percent before the course.

And among experienced leaders participating in the Cultivating Leadership Presence course, 2009 research showed that:

  • 80 percent reported a positive change in their ability to make better decisions with more clarity.
  • 89 percent reported enhanced listening capabilities – to themselves and to others.

The courses were opened to other organizations in 2008, and the response has been very positive.

More than 30 different organizations and companies have sent leaders from around the world to the four-day program that began with General Mills leaders. They have also become very popular within General Mills – not only for the benefits they have created at work, but also for improving participants’ home lives.

The General Mills courses were developed jointly by Janice Marturano, vice president of Public Responsibility and deputy general counsel at General Mills, and Saki Santorelli, executive director of the Center for Mindfulness, which is part of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Integral Development conducts courses on Mindfulness at Work and Mindfulness for Leaders in Perth, Western Australia.

Ron Cacioppe

Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development and holds a BSc, an MBA and a PhD. He has taught in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

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