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Developing leaders through mindfulness practice

Megan Reitz ( Hult International Business School - Ashridge Executive Education Campus , Berkhamsted, UK )
Lee Waller ( Hult International Business School - Ashridge Executive Education Campus , Berkhamsted, UK )
Michael Chaskalson ( Hult International Business School - Ashridge Executive Education Campus , Berkhamsted, UK ) ( Mindfulness Works , Cambridge, UK )
Sharon Olivier ( Hult International Business School - Ashridge Executive Education Campus , Berkhamsted, UK )
Silke Rupprecht ( Research Consultant , Hamburg, Germany )

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 4 March 2020

Issue publication date: 28 March 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The study's objective was to examine whether and how mindfulness training and practice might impact indicators of three capacities identified as critical for leading in the twenty-first century: resilience, leading in complex contexts and collaboration.

Design/methodology/approach

We conducted a non-randomised wait-list controlled study with 57 senior leaders (81 per cent female) who undertook an eight-week “Mindful Leader” programme.

Findings

Our findings suggest the programme was effective in developing leaders in terms of their mindfulness, resilience and self-perceived leadership competencies such as collaboration and agility in complex situations. The amount of mindfulness practice the leaders undertook was associated with improvements in mindfulness, resilience and collaboration. Furthermore, participants reported that the programme was beneficial for them as leaders and that the training format was feasible. However, objective measures of cognitive functioning and leadership competence did not improve significantly within the mindfulness intervention group.

Practical implications

Mindfulness practice may be a promising and effective method for leader development. Our results suggest that mindfulness can be learnt and developed by executive leaders, as long as they practice for at least 10 min per day.

Originality/value

This is the first study to investigate how resilience, leading in complex contexts and collaboration can be developed through mindfulness training.

Keywords

Citation

Reitz, M., Waller, L., Chaskalson, M., Olivier, S. and Rupprecht, S. (2020), "Developing leaders through mindfulness practice", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 223-239. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-09-2018-0264

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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