Improve Follower Well-Being with Leader Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Mindfulness will help you clear away the trivia and needless worries about unimportant things, nurture passion for your work and compassion for others, and develop the ability to empower the people in your organization.” – Bill George
Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for not only to productivity in the workplace but also to our psychological and physical health. Mindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace and they have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. This, in turn, improves productivity and the well-being of the employees. As a result, many businesses have incorporated mindfulness practices into the workday.
Mindfulness may also help to promote leadership in the workplace. It can potentially do so by enhancing emotion regulation, making the individual better able to recognize, experience, and adaptively respond to their emotions, and making the leader better able to listen to and to understand the needs and emotion of the workers they lead. Hence, the mindfulness of the leader may well be associated with the follower’s perception of their leadership abilities and in turn with the follower’s well-being.
In today’s Research News article “Follower Mindfulness and Well-Being: The Mediating Role of Perceived Authentic Leadership and the Moderating Role of Leader Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00879/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1339331_69_Psycho_20200528_arts_A), Zhang and colleagues recruited team leaders and followers at 2 Chinese manufacturing plants and had them complete questionnaires measuring mindfulness, perceived authentic leadership, and well-being.
They found that the higher the leader mindfulness the higher the follower mindfulness and the higher the follower mindfulness the greater the levels of perceived authentic leadership, and follower well-being. In addition, the higher the perceived authentic leadership the higher the follower well-being. So, both mindfulness and the perception of authenticity of the leader are associated with greater well-being in the employee.
A mediation analysis revealed that the relationship between follower mindfulness and follower well-being was mediated by perceived authentic leadership with the higher the perceived authentic leadership the stronger the relationship between follower mindfulness and follower well-being. They also found that the leader’s mindfulness was associated with higher levels of perceived authentic leadership.
These results suggest that the well-being of the employee is positively related to both the employee’s and the supervisor’s mindfulness; the more they are mindful, the greater the employee’s well-being. In addition, the perception that the leader is authentic is positively associated with both the leader’s and the follower’s levels of mindfulness. Hence, the leader is perceived as authentic if they are mindful and also if the employee is mindful. Finally, the results suggest that the perception that the leader is authentic is important for the ability of the follower’s mindfulness to be associated with greater well-being.
This study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But the results indicate that mindfulness in the workplace is highly associated with the well-being of the employees. It does so directly and also indirectly by being associated with the perception that the supervisor is an authentic leader. This underscores the importance of mindfulness to the workplace and suggests that mindfulness training for both the employees and their supervisors could results in improved morale and well-being.
So, improve follower well-being with leader mindfulness.
“A mindful leader is someone who embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others.” – Janice Marturano
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Zhang J, Song LJ, Ni D and Zheng X (2020) Follower Mindfulness and Well-Being: The Mediating Role of Perceived Authentic Leadership and the Moderating Role of Leader Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 11:879. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00879
Drawing on implicit leadership theory and the mindfulness literature, we propose that perceived authentic leadership mediates the relationship between follower mindfulness and follower well-being. Leader mindfulness plays a moderating role in this process. We validated these hypotheses with the two-wave data from 56 leaders and 275 followers in two private enterprises located in China. We used Mplus 8.0 to test our hypotheses. Consistent with our hypotheses, the results showed that perceived authentic leadership mediated the positive relationship between follower mindfulness and follower well-being. Higher leader mindfulness enhanced the effect of follower mindfulness on perceived authentic leadership and also strengthened the indirect effect of follower mindfulness on follower well-being via perceived authentic leadership. The theoretical and managerial implications are further discussed in the light of these findings.