Mindfulness as substitute for transformational leadership

B. Kroon, M. van Woerkom, Charlotte Menting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
351 Downloads (Pure)



Transformational leaders spark the intrinsic motivation of employees, thereby stimulating their extra-role performance. However, not all employees are lucky enough to have a transformational leader. The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent mindfulness can function as a substitute for transformational leadership. By being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present, mindfulness provides employees with a source of intrinsic motivation that lies within the person, thereby possibly making employees less dependent on transformational leadership.


An online survey was used to collect data of 382 employees working in diverse sectors in the Netherlands.


Moderated mediation analyses indicated that mindfulness partly compensates for a low levels of transformational leadership in fostering intrinsic motivation and in turn extra-role performance, thereby providing evidence for the substitutes for leadership theory. Moreover, the findings extend previous research on the contribution of mindfulness to in-role performance by showing its additional value for intrinsic motivation and extra-role performance.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the use of validated measures and the presence of an interaction effect, common-source bias cannot be out ruled completely. Practical implications - Since mindfulness can be developed, the results suggest a training intervention to make employees less dependent on their leaders for their motivation.


This paper is the first to show that mindful people are more resilient against the absence of transformational leadership. Given the frequent changes in management layers in organizations, knowledge about resources for individual resilience and self-management is sorely needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-297
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Transformational leadership
  • Motivation
  • Mindfulness
  • Proactivity
  • Self-determination
  • Intrrinsic motivation
  • Substitution


Dive into the research topics of 'Mindfulness as substitute for transformational leadership'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this