Professor Gillian Yeo

Started at UWA: 2009

Gillian Yeo is a Professor and Woodside Chair in Leadership and Management at the UWA Business School’s Department of Management and Organisations. Gillian specialises in organisational psychology and behaviour, with a particular focus on the dynamic self-regulatory processes related to motivation, emotion, and cognition in relation to learning, performance and wellbeing in the workplace. 

Born in Sydney and raised in Queensland, Gillian completed her combined Master's and PhD in Organisational Psychology at The University of Queensland in 2003 and commenced her academic career there as a postdoctoral fellow in 2004, and then Lecturer in Organisational Psychology in 2006.

Gillian relocated to Perth in 2009 to take up a Senior Lecturer role in the Department of Management and Organisations at the UWA Business School.

Gillian has published in several high-impact journals, including Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology and the Journal of Management. She is currently Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Psychology. 
Gillian’s collaborative research with industry and the community and has informed decisions regarding training, performance and wellbeing in these work contexts. For example, Gillian has been leading a team of researchers to better understand team leadership in incident command teams and implications for training design and transfer. She has also provided targeted health interventions to hundreds of working professionals in the Western Australian community, helping forward important insight into the types of work breaks that support wellbeing.


  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours I) in Psychology, The University of Queensland

External positions:

  • Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Psychology

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Woodside Chair in Leadership & Management (2021 onwards)

Appointed Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Psychology (2020-2026)

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Australian Psychological Society Early Career Researcher Award (2009)

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Commendation for Postgraduate Lecturing Excellence, University of Queensland (2008)

Commendation for Tutoring Excellence, University of Queensland (2004)


Work recovery and creativity project
Led by Professor Yeo, this research proposes and tests a framework arguing that undirected attention, the psychological experience of one’s attention wandering widely and freely, enhances recovery and creativity at work. In particular, this research shifts the spotlight from controlled regulation (e.g., directed attention when intentionally pursuing goals) to an undirected attentional process thought to help maximise human potential in the workplace.
As part of a long-term health and wellbeing project, this research has provided more than 500 professionals the opportunity to identify activities likely to help them recover from work-related stressors while still maintaining productivity.

This research is being conducted in collaboration with researchers from UWA (Nicole Celestine, Jenny Hoffman, March To, Shaun Dalmasson, Dilkash Parabia, Emma Stephenson), The University of Waterloo (James Beck, Anna Gödöllei), Curtin University (Sharon Parker), The University of Queensland (Stacey Parker) and the Australian National University (Giles Hirst).
The impact of leader behaviours on team trust, team voice and decision making in the submarine command team

Led by Dr. Ruchi Sinha from The University of South Australia, this research aims to explore the role of adaptive leadership, trust, and voice within submarine command teams. Findings from this research will be extrapolated from a series of simulated Mount Everest climbs to provide recommendations for Australia Defence.

This research is being co-led by Professor Yeo, and in collaboration with researchers from UWA (Dilkash Parabia, Nicole Celestine), The University of South Australia (Maria Cecilia Tournour), The Australian Catholic University (Bart de Jong), The University of Adelaide (Chad Chiu) and The University of Melbourne (Andrew Yu).

Team leadership in incident command teams

Led by Professor Yeo, this research is conducted in collaboration with ERGT Australia, to investigate the dynamic patterns of team leader behaviour associated with effective team processes and management of critical incidents. Findings from this research directly inform continuous improvement of training and performance management initiatives in the safety-critical training sector.

This research is being conducted in collaboration with researchers from UWA (Nicole Celestine, Jia Chang Lim, Jack Hutchinson, Terence Chia), Curtin University (Mark Griffin, Daniela Andrei, Florian Klonek, Dannielle Finnerty, Cecilia Runneboom), Pepperdine University (Cristina Gibson) and Claremont McKenna College (David Day).

Leadership and the "mental load"
PhD student Emma Stephenson, supervised by Professor Gillian Yeo and Dr Laura Fruhen, is investigating the 'mental load' (i.e., the internal mental process of anticipating, planning, and monitoring performance for the sake of accomplishing goals) that is often shouldered by women. This project extends this phenomenon—which has almost exclusively been studied from a household perspective—into the work domain and explores its impact on female leadership, wellbeing, and other work-related outcomes.
Leadership and mental health
Led by Dr. Joseph Carpini, this research examines mental health in the workplace in collaboration with academics from across UWA. This multi-disciplinary project is directed toward understanding factors in the workplace that support or diminish mental health and what interventions can be feasibly introduced to enhance mental health at work. The project involves an examination of the antecedents and consequences of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and the role organisational leaders play in influencing the mental-health issues of their employees.

Teaching and supervisor opportunities 

Gillian currently teaches an undergraduate leadership unit. Since 2003, she has supervised 11 PhD and 27 Honours/Masters students to completion. She enjoys working with students on projects spanning a wide range of topics, including workplace safety, self-regulation and motivation, recovery/well-being/energy management (e.g., play at work), team leadership, and gender and leadership.

Her current work with students includes gender, leadership and the “mental load” with PhD student Emma Stephenson (co-supervised by Dr. Laura Fruhen), and relational leader behaviours, team, trust and team voice with PhD student Dilkash Parabia (co-supervised by Dr. Joseph Carpini and Dr. Ruchi Sinha) and customer mistreatment with PhD student Miao Huang (co-supervised with Dr. Rajiv Amarnarni and Dr. March To).

PhD expressions of interest welcome



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Research repository

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