Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Mindful Leadership


Mindfulness is like going to a mental gym and the equivalent of doing a rep where you lift a weight to make a muscle grow is being mindful, seeing your mind wander and bringing it back. And that indeed seems to change the strength and circuitry for focus. And focus is the key to learning, to optimal performance, to leadership, to excellence in any domain. ~ Daniel Goleman

I started my mindfulness practice almost a decade ago. It was a particularly difficult time in my life and friends and my doctor suggested I might find it helpful. My exploration began with a mindfulness-based stress reduction course, based on the program created by Jon Kabat Zin. I have since deepened my practice by reading books and articles by Sakyong Mipham, Pema Chödrön and the Dalai Lama. While based on the Buddhist philosophies of their traditions, they hold many lessons for secular society. I highly recommend the Dalai Lama’s book, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World.

Since last September I have been participating in the leadership development program at work. Much of the program is focused on leading with emotional intelligence.

One of the aha moments for me is how aligned leading with emotional intelligence and mindfulness really are. Many of the core skills I have been developing have been linked to my mindfulness practice. Whether it’s working with people who have different communications or conflict styles or managing up, these are important skills that everyone needs to develop. By staying present and knowing what triggers us, we can better support the people we lead and manage up effectively.

If you are interested in the intersection of emotional intelligence and mindfulness Daniel Goleman gave an interview in advance of the EQ Summit last May on the topic. One quote that really stood out for me was:

People who are strong in self-awareness turn out to have well-developed strengths across the board. That’s everything from the drive to achieve, conflict management, empathy and so on. And people who are low in self-awareness have very few such things. So there is this very intriguing relationship between sharpening your attention, your focus, your mindfulness and leadership strengths.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.