University Leaders and Teachers Mindfulness are Associated with Lower Emotional Exhaustion in Teachers
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“leader mindfulness significantly reduces the emotional exhaustion of university teachers.” – Beini Liu
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 University teachers’ well-being.
In today’s Research News article “Influence of Leader Mindfulness on the Emotional Exhaustion of University Teachers: Resources Crossover Effect.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7959755/ ) Liu and colleagues recruited public university leaders and teachers and had them complete a questionnaire measuring leader mindfulness and teacher mindfulness, workplace telepressure, emotional exhaustion, self-efficacy, working hours, and years in current position.
They found that with gender, age, tenure, and hours worked statistically controlled that the higher the level of the leader’s mindfulness the lower the level of the teacher’s emotional exhaustion and the lower the levels of telepressure. A mediation analysis revealed the leader’s mindfulness was associated with lower teacher emotional exhaustion directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower telepressure and telepressure was associated with higher levels of teacher emotional exhaustion. This association between the leader’s mindfulness and the lower teacher’s emotional exhaustions was significantly stronger when the teachers had high levels of mindfulness. Finally, they found that the higher the levels of the teacher’s self-efficacy the weaker the relationship between telepressure and emotional exhaustion.
The study was correlational so no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. Nevertheless, the associations between the variables are interesting. It is clear that mindfulness is important both within the individual teacher and also in the leader for being associated with lower teacher emotional exhaustion. It has previously been shown that mindfulness decreases burnout. So, the relationships observed here probably results from a causal connection.
Workplace telepressure “is a psychological state in which employees are constantly concerned about urgently responding to work-related ICTs [Information and Communications Technologies] during non-working hours.” These communications appear to be associated with higher levels of emotional exhaustion and these, in part, appear to mediate the effects of mindfulness on emotional exhaustion. In addition, when the teachers had high self-efficacy, telepressure had less of an impact on emotional exhaustion.
Preventing teacher burnout is important not only for the teacher’s well-being but also for the students’ education. It is clear that mindful academic leadership is important, suggesting that mindfulness training for leaders may improve the workplace environment for the teachers. The teacher’s level of mindfulness and self-efficacy appear also to be important, suggesting that mindfulness and self-efficacy training for the teachers would also likely improve their well-being. The results also suggest that communications to the teachers should be limited and less urgent. Being cognizant of the importance of these relationships can help to improve the environment, psychological health, and performance of university teachers.
So, university leaders’ and teachers’ mindfulness are associated with lower emotional exhaustion in teachers.
“administrators and school leaders can increase retention and efficacy by seeking out ways to support teachers’ self-care and learning of mindfulness techniques.” – Kelsey Milne
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Liu, B., Zhang, Z., & Lu, Q. (2021). Influence of Leader Mindfulness on the Emotional Exhaustion of University Teachers: Resources Crossover Effect. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 597208. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.597208
This study combined conservation of resources theory with the job demands-resources model to explore the influence of leader mindfulness on the emotional exhaustion of university teachers Using a time-lagged research design, 388 paired data sets were gathered. Multiple regression and bootstrapping were used to test each hypothesis. The results showed that first, leader mindfulness significantly reduces the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. Second, the results showed that workplace telepressure partially mediates the relationship between leader mindfulness and the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. Third, university teacher mindfulness positively moderates the relationship between leader mindfulness and workplace telepressure. Finally, the results of this study indicate that self-efficacy in managing negative emotions negatively moderates the relationship between workplace telepressure and the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. This study empirically examined the interpersonal influence of leader mindfulness and the initial resources effect of university teacher mindfulness and self-efficacy in managing negative emotions from the bilateral perspective of leaders and university teachers.