The Mindful Leader

Exploring the link between mindfulness practice and key leadership capacities for the 21st century

This topical and important research project investigates the effectiveness of mindfulness training on various leadership capacities crucial to the challenges of the 21st century. Mindfulness appears to be a 'hot topic' within both business and academia, and there are a number of convincing arguments relating to the importance of mindfulness for leaders in the 21st century.

This research seeks to assess the effects on participants of a specifically designed eight-week mindfulness programme for leaders; these programmes are designed and led by leading mindfulness expert Michael Chaskalson and leadership development expert Dr. Megan Reitz.

We propose this research will offer four new contributions to the field:

  • Firstly, it will trial a new mindfulness training process specifically aimed at leaders (rather than the typically more 'clinical' process frequently used in mindfulness training programmes)
  • Secondly, it will assess the effects of mindfulness on a selection of relevant leadership outcomes linked to success in the 21st century (research to date has focused on the specific impact of areas such as Positivity and EQ, rather than on the more holistic, integrative intelligences that Mindfulness appears to develop)
  • Thirdly, it will assess the effects of mindfulness through both self- and 360-reports to obtain a more reliable measure (research to date has focused on self-assessment only).
  • Finally, we will undertake qualitative research to illuminate the leaders' experience of developing mindfulness practice amidst the pressure of every-day work in an increasingly complex environment (an aspect that has not previously been researched).

Our broadest contention is that those who are more mindful have a greater capacity to work with their own minds and mental and emotional states - and that, we believe, benefits everyone. Above all, we know that mindfulness is a skill that can be trained; eight-week mindfulness programmes have been shown in multiple peer-reviewed studies to have the capacity to raise the level of mindfulness in those who participate in them.

Key Questions

The key research question for this project is:

How does mindfulness practice affect leadership capability?

Specifically, the project will explore:

  • Which leadership capabilities are positively affected by mindfulness practice, as perceived by the leaders themselves, and by their colleagues and staff?
  • How do leaders experience bringing mindfulness practice into their working lives?
  • What other benefits are perceived to result from mindfulness training?

Research Team

This project is being led by Dr. Megan Retiz and the team includes Michael Chaskalson, Lee Waller, Sharon Olivier and Ayiesha Russell.

What's involved?

The research will centre on two mindfulness programmes, each run over an eight-week period. This will require attendance a short fortnightly workshop, as well as daily personal practice.

If you're interested in participating, further details can be found on our events page

How can I find out more?

For more information on the programme, contact: +44 1442 841026 or email: info@ashridge.org.uk