Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 156, Issue 4, pp 1007–1025 | Cite as

The Interpersonal Benefits of Leader Mindfulness: A Serial Mediation Model Linking Leader Mindfulness, Leader Procedural Justice Enactment, and Employee Exhaustion and Performance

  • Sebastian C. SchuhEmail author
  • Michelle Xue Zheng
  • Katherine R. Xin
  • Juan Antonio Fernandez
Original Paper


Although it is an increasingly popular assumption that leader mindfulness may positively affect leader behaviors and, in turn, employee outcomes, to date, little empirical evidence supports this view. Against this backdrop, the present research seeks to develop and test a serial mediation model of leader mindfulness. Specifically, we propose that leader mindfulness enhances employee performance and that this relationship is explained by increased leader procedural justice enactment and, subsequently, reduced employees’ emotional exhaustion. We conducted three studies to test this model. Study 1 involved employees from a wide range of organizations in the USA (N = 275 employees). Study 2 used a sample of leaders and employees from China and measured our model variables at three different points in time (N = 182 employees and 54 leaders). Both studies provide consistent support for our hypotheses. Finally, Study 3 involved a laboratory experiment in which 62 senior executives were assigned to either a mindfulness induction or to a control condition. Again, results revealed a significant and positive link between leader mindfulness and leader procedural justice enactment. In sum, these findings expand our understanding of mindfulness to the domain of leadership, a key area of organizational research. Moreover, they complement prior studies by showing that mindfulness dynamics go beyond intrapersonal effects but also influence the attitudes and behaviors of others. We discuss our findings in light of their contributions to the mindfulness, ethics, and leadership literatures and point out implications for practice.


Mindfulness Leadership Procedural justice enactment Justice rule adherence Emotional exhaustion Employee performance Field study Experiment Serial mediation 



We are grateful to Jessie Fan for her help with collecting data for this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian C. Schuh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle Xue Zheng
    • 1
  • Katherine R. Xin
    • 1
  • Juan Antonio Fernandez
    • 1
  1. 1.China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)ShanghaiChina

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