Chief financial officers need “mindfulness” more than maths to be effective business leaders and avoid damaging corporate scandals, according to a report by the accountants’ body ACCA.

It says traditional leadership training is out of touch with the needs of today’s senior executives, who need mindfulness to support self-regulation, promote effective decision-making, and protect themselves from toxic stress.

Palma Michel, co-author of the report, said: “Applying yesterday’s business frameworks, solutions and behaviours to tomorrow’s problems won’t work. “When people are faced with change or feel under pressure, there is a tendency to fall into fear-based reactivity instead of being able to respond according to what the situation requires.”

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Mindfulness allows CFOs to “manage their inner landscape and get into a different relationship to their thoughts, emotions and stress”, Ms Michel said, adding: “It may initially seem a totally alien concept when applied to the corporate world, but simple mindfulness practices can be used by business leaders to enhance the decision making process, especially in the midst of particularly turbulent circumstances.”

Increased awareness of others would also allow CFOs to become more effective relationship managers, aligning a workforce behind a common purpose, Ms Michel added.

Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector at ACCA, said scandals such as those at Toshiba, Tesco and Volkswagen illustrated the dangers ahead.