Walking Their Talk: The Role of the Body in Effective, Positive Leadership


LeeAnn M. Mallorie

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



The way we do anything is the way we do everything. Be it giving a presentation in the boardroom or running a marathon, we must take action using our physical bodies. Yet, despite this fact, the body has been largely overlooked in research on leadership and organizational well-being. The present paper aims to dispel the myth that the body is simply a tool, arguing that body-mind connection may be a critical missing piece in the formula for effective, positive leadership. I propose that important aspects of positive leadership like character strengths and practical wisdom may be trainable via mindfulness practices that involve coordinated movement of, or attention on, the physical body. Ten teachers of body-based wisdom and ten corporate leaders were interviewed to explore these hypotheses. The interviews examined positive leadership qualities, the role of physical health and the role of body awareness and body language in effective, positive leadership. Based on the literature review and interview results, I propose two pathways by which the wisdom of the body can enhance leadership. First, leaders may be able to develop and cultivate latent leadership strengths through body-based mindfulness practice. Second, leaders with greater body-awareness may display greater practical wisdom, using information obtained from bodily sensations to engage their key strengths in the right situations, at the right times, in the right ways.


leadership, character strengths, practical wisdom, embodied cognition, positive psychology


Business/Work, Character Strengths and Virtues


Literature Review



Date Posted: 10 December 2015