Evaluating the perceptions and practices of the emotional wellness of higher education leaders

Empirical research on the intersection of wellness and higher education leadership is lacking (Bass, 2008; Cioffi, 2018; Riera, 2013). The emotional wellness of leaders is an issue that has received even less attention (Cioffi, 2018). Findings from this mixed-methods study suggest leaders often incur an emotional toll while dealing with the pressures of leading. These findings are in light of the stress-related turnover that the literature suggests is increasing for leaders (Gagliardi, Espinosa, Turk, & Taylor, 2017; Gardner, 2016; Selingo, 2016; Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research, 2016). Further complicating this situation is a perceived lack of support for leaders’ emotional wellness, conceptualized as the wellness support gap. This study uses the constructs of emotional intelligence, emotional labor, mindfulness, and emotional capital as theoretical lens with which to view emotional wellness as an untapped resource and source of support. Recommendations for professional organizations, leadership practice, and policy include the adoption of standards and best practices for the profession that include leaders’ emotional wellness.