Evidence base

Evidence base

Mindfulness in the workplace is a highly researched area with an ever-growing evidence base. LxLeaders also conducts its own research through our LxLeaders Core Programme. Below you can find the quantitative and qualitative results of our programme. You can also find some published studies into the wider impact of mindfulness on leadership and the workplace.


Mindfulness for leaders: published studies

For an excellent overview of the research into workplace mindfulness, the publication Building the Case for Mindfulness in the Workplace, provides hundreds of citations for research in the field, focusing on improved performance and business benefit. Below we outline four such studies and their implications for improved leadership.

Mindfulness in Leaders and Leadership Flexibility

A study by Baronet al (Mindfulness and leadership flexibility, February 2018, Journal of Management Development 37(3)) showed that there was a positive association between mindfulness skills and behavioural flexibility in leaders. Behavioural flexibility is important as it allows leaders to better adapt the leadership style to the demands of different situation. Data was collected from 100 active leaders from diverse economic sectors and 62 students pursuing an executive MBA degree. The results showed that ‘mindfulness is positively associated with the overall score for leader flexibility, and with its two dualities: 1) self-assertive and directive vs collaborative and supportive, and 2) long term strategy vs short term execution. Specifically, four of the five dimensions of mindfulness (non reactive, non judging, acting with awareness and describing) were positively correlated with the overall flexibility score.

Mindfulness in Leaders and Employee Engagement

A study by Reb et al (Leading Mindfully: Two Studies on the Influence of Supervisor Trait Mindfulness on Employee Well-Being and Performance. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012) measured the influence of leaders’ mindfulness on employee wellbeing and performance. Data was collected from 96 managers and their subordinates. Findings showed that supervisor mindfulness increased employee work and reduced employee emotional exhaustion. More specifically it improved employee engagement and performance and was positively related to work life balance, job satisfaction and overall job performance. The results suggest a potentially important role of leading mindfully in organisations.

Mindfulness in Leaders and  Self Mastery and Organisational Transformation

A study of leaders, mindfulness and performance by King et al (Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources (2017), Mindfulness and job performance: a study of Australian leaders) concluded that mindfulness is positively related to leadership self-mastery and leadership organizational-transformation. Data from 84 senior leaders concluded that ‘ leadership performance may ultimately be enhanced by having leaders who are more mindful and present at work. King also wrote an excellent summary article (Leadership in uncertainty, Organ Dynamics (2018), on how deep mindfulness programmes can be incorporated in to workplaces to promote skilful leadership in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

Mindfulness and Unconscious Bias

A study by Lueke et al.* researched the impact of mindfulness on implicit age and racial bias as measured by implicit association tests (IATs). This is important because implicit bias and assumption can impact on EDI initiatives within an organisations. The study showed that mindfulness meditation caused an increase in state mindfulness and a decrease in implicit race and age bias by enabling less reliance on previously established associations.

* Lueke, A., Gibson, B., 2015. Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Implicit Age and Race Bias
The Role of Reduced Automaticity of Responding. Social Psychological and Personal Science, 6(3), 284-291

LxLeaders Core programme: evidence base

Quantitative data

Participants (all senior leaders) completed a questionnaire before and after the training to assess their interpersonal (relational) mindfulness skills. The questionnaire assessed self reported interpersonal behaviours by asking participants to score themselves on a variety of statements (1-5 where 3 corresponded with ‘sometimes’ , 4 ‘ frequently and 5 ‘almost always’.) The questions focus on 4 facets of interpersonal or relational behaviour – presence, non-reactivity, non-judgmental awareness and awareness of self and others, all of which are important qualities that deepen existing leadership capacities.

  • All participants, for which there was complete data, made shift in a positive direction.
  • Participants on average saw a 17% change in their total scores with 80% of participants moved up a complete scoring category on average (i.e. exhibiting behaviour within the ‘sometimes’ category 3 to and moved to an average score in the ‘frequently’ category 4), thus showing valuable behavioural change in just 7 weeks of the programme, with the potential to impact on their teams and their performance.

The two facets of the relational skills that changed most were those of non-reactivity and awareness of self and others, where there was up to 28% change in scores pre and post the Programme. These were the facets which closely correlated with the competencies selected as a focus for the programme.

Qualitative data

Following the training we asked participants (all senior leaders) how they were thinking differently, how they were feeling differently and what were they doing differently. The feedback received clearly showed this programme to develop multiple capacities that resulted in real behaviour change in their work. Click on the + by each capability to see what they said.

Self Management
Improving our capacity to notice what is actually happening in the moment and choosing how we want to respond to that situation rather than reacting habitually to behavioural drivers.

“Very helpful to be able to recognise thoughts for what they are and that they can be effectively put to one side to concentrate on the job in hand to ensure this receives the right amount of attention.”
“Noticing how easily things encroach on how we feel / act and, therefore, impact on performance and wellbeing. ”

Conflict Management
By recognising what is happening for us and others in a high intensity situation we can behave skilfully and act in a way that de-escalates a situation rather than adding to the stress.

“The ability to provide space to recognise choices. Getting out of the emotion to look at how I wish to respond”
“Helping me to separate past experiences from current situations, avoiding me becoming distracted with reading into things that probably don’t exist”

Decision Making  
By learning more about what thoughts are and how we make decisions and practicing our ability to work with thoughts, we can have more choice in the decisions we make and how we make them.

“Methods for improving my leadership performance and behaviours in specific situations, including finding perspective and linking back to what’s important in high pressure situations and techniques for being with challenge to help me to be more effective in situations which I find challenging”

Creating space to lead
Participants quickly develop the ability to create space between what is happening around them and the action they take in response. This ability to pause and select how they respond can dramatically improve their impact as a leader.

“Focusing upon specific behaviours that I want to display in defined situations has begun to help me to make considered decisions under pressure”
“I recognise when my mind is chattering or I’m losing focus and use a short practice to regroup.

Focussing on the task
Leaders often report noticing the ‘chatter’ in their minds when they start to practice mindfulness. As they continue the Programme they develop the capacity to bring their attention back to the task in hand and become less distracted. perspective?

“I regularly practice the management of my thoughts to avoid trying to do too many things or not focusing on the task at had because of thoughts pulling me away”
Raised my thought processes and behaviours to focus on the primary matters
“I recognise when my mind is chattering or I’m losing focus and use a short practice to regroup

Creating a safer team culture
As leaders develop these skills they start to demonstrate behaviours that positively impact on their teams and the people around them, for example they may treat team members differently, listen better, be more inclusive or become able to absorb, rather than transmit anxiety or stress. This is often noticed by colleagues before they notice it themselves.

“My team commented that I seem different in my approach. Having a different mindset and being kinder. ”
“I feel I’m a better listener – not interrupting peoples flow whilst they are speaking, meaning they get a better response from me. Trying to notice my thoughts before I react.”
“ better able to balance my views / opinions against others when they are different”

When leaders work in high pressured situations, it can feel relentless and overwhelming. By learning mindfulness techniques leaders can be surprised and relieved by the accessibility of tools (including a recognition of the role kindness can play) to give them more space and a greater sense of calm from which they are better able to  deal with leadership challenges.

“I feel the programme provided me with tools to help manage the pressures and challenges I face day to day”
“Take time to reflect on challenging situations and what was positive and what I could have done differently (with kindness)”
“To take time out – to be more effective. To be less critical of oneself and to be kinder to self”

With a greater sense of insight into how we can manage thoughts and navigate emotions added to the skills needed to help us pause, leaders can feel empowered and recognise that they are better able to do their jobs.

“ Techniques for being with challenge have helped me to feel I am contributing more effectively in high profile Committee meetings.”
“ I use the widow of effectiveness model – what is sending me off balance and what do I need to do to come back? ”
“ A set of tools to help me stand back and not get overwhelmed or to reboot myself prior to a meeting”

The Programme is designed and lead in a way that creates a safe space for leaders to share their new experiences and vulnerability, if they want to do so. For example clear ground rules are set at the start of each session. As leaders on the Programme do so, they build a sense of trust with their peers which may be very new and lasting.

“I enjoyed the course and working with Annika and Andrew. The wider group also provided good support and learning. Together these was really positive in making the course easier and more beneficial.”


The quantitative and qualitative data shows the LxLeaders Core Programme had a significant and positive impact on those who took part, allowing for more effective leadership with improvement across a wide range of key leadership competencies and behaviours. More detail on our research will be available in our case studies – to be published soon. In the meantime, please get in touch to discuss how our mindfulness-based programmes or our coaching and consultancy can positively impact your business.   


  • Reb, J., Narayanan, J. and Chaturvedi, S. 2012. Leading Mindfully: Two Studies on the Influence of Supervisor Trait Mindfulness
    on Employee Well-Being and Performance. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
  • E King, J Haar (2017), Mindfulness and job performance: a study of Australian leaders,
    Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources
  • Baron, L., Rouleau, V., Grégoire, S. & Baron, C. (2018). Mindfulness and leadership flexibility.
    Journal of Management Development, 37(2), 165-177.
  • Ikiseh, B.N. (2021). Unconscious Bias: The Unconscious Conscious Affect. Academia Letters,
  • Lueke, A., Gibson, B., 2015. Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Implicit Age and Race Bias
    The Role of Reduced Automaticity of Responding. Social Psychological and Personal Science, 6(3), 284-291
  • E. King, R. Badham, Leadership in uncertainty, Organ Dynamics (2018)