Mindful Leader Study

How Leadership Wisdom is Developed

dutch franz, PhD, Chief Performance Officer at TierOne Performance Consulting, Director of the TierOne Performance Institute and Lab, and Research Fellow with think2perform



Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve employee well-being, workplace attention, engagement, and general happiness.  More advanced contemplative practices are hypothesized to improve areas of social and emotional intelligence like; leader self-awareness, decision making, situational awareness, strategic planning, pro-social compassionate and empathetic behavior, and multi-cultural and interpersonal communication (see Harvard Business Review, Jun 2016).  While research into the effects of mindfulness practice has become popular, few scientific studies have researched specific contemplative based programs like CCT and no studies have tried to isolate the self-awareness competency of Emotional Intelligence (EI) thought to be critical to many leadership competencies.

This study explored the effect of Stanford University’s contemplative CCT mindful-insight training on self-awareness and overall EI in a population of organizational leaders.


  1. Measure the effect of contemplative based compassion training on self-awareness: Self-awareness has been found to be a foundational skill for good leadership and other skills valuable to organizational success. This study seeks to explore if a causal relationship exists between CCT practices and self-awareness and overall EI development.
  2. Improve leadership and organizational performance: This study seeks to identify a cost-effective, low-impact, sustainable practice that will improve workplace performance, organizational culture, and individual well-being.


  1. Training: The training program used in this study is an 8-week Compassionate Cultivation Training (CCT) program developed by Stanford University.  The Stanford training method is a contemplative/insight based training program. Volunteers will participate in hour-long sessions once a week in a group setting.  Training will be led by a certified Stanford meditation instructor.  Volunteers will conduct meditation practice lasting between 5 – 20 minutes and participate in group training focused on developing aspects of mindful-insight and compassion.  The training can be conducted on-sight or at a community location convenient to the participants.
  2. Questionnaire: The participant’s before and after self-awareness and EI will be measured using the Emotional Social Competence Inventory (ESCI) developed by Dr. Daniel Goleman and Dr. Richard Boyatzis and administered through the Hay Group.  The online questionnaire takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
  3. Design and Anonymity: The study will utilize a pre-test/post-test quasi-experimental and control group design.  Participant anonymity will be maintained throughout the study and in publication.  The organization can remain anonymous or choose to have participation published by Stanford along with the findings of the study and/or with business journals reporting on this foundational research.
  4. Cost: There are several costs sharing or cost exempt possibilities for the organization and participants.  Retail cost of the training and EI assessment if conducted outside of the study is over $500 per participant.
  5. Benefit: Individual benefit for participation in the study cannot be guaranteed.  Previous research has suggested that insight-meditation could impact self-awareness, decision making, situational awareness, strategic planning, pro-social behavior, and multi-cultural and interpersonal communication.  The participating organization will receive a copy of the consolidated EI data that could indicate a cost-effective, low-impact, sustainable practice to improve workplace performance, organizational culture, and individual well-being.