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Mindfulness and leadership flexibility

Louis Baron (Department of Organization and Human Resources Management, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Véronique Rouleau (Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Simon Grégoire (Department of Education and Pedagogy, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Charles Baron (Department of Management, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 5 March 2018




In a context of great complexity, many authors have focused on the beneficial effects of leadership flexibility (Denison et al., 1995), a capacity theoretically associated with mindfulness. The purpose of this paper is to better understand the relationship between mindfulness and behavioral flexibility in leaders.


Data were collected from two samples: 100 active leaders from diverse economic sectors and 62 students pursuing an executive MBA degree.


The results show that mindfulness is positively associated with the overall score for leader flexibility, and with its two dualities: self-assertive and directive vs collaborative and supportive, and long-term strategy vs short-term execution. Specifically, four of the five dimensions of mindfulness (nonreactivity, nonjudging, acting with awareness and describing) were positively correlated with the overall flexibility score.

Practical implications

The results suggest that by developing mindfulness, managers might be better able to adapt their leadership style to the demands of different situations. To that end, interventions based on mindfulness are worthwhile options for use within organizations, particularly in the context of leadership development programs.


While most models of leadership assume a linear relationship between certain leadership behaviors and performance, other voices suggest that effective leaders need to possess great behavioral flexibility so that they can adapt with agility to the multiple needs of the people and situations around them. Few studies have examined the factors that may play a role in leadership flexibility.



Baron, L., Rouleau, V., Grégoire, S. and Baron, C. (2018), "Mindfulness and leadership flexibility", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 165-177.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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