In business environments that no longer tolerate mindless managers or those who are authoritative but lack wisdom, mindful leaders are becoming increasingly prized in the workplace. I’ve realised that this comes down to one simple reason: Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence garner more loyalty and support than those who don’t.
A mindful leader is someone who leverages qualities like creativity, compassion, self-awareness, focus, and empathy to lead other people to positive personal and organisational outcomes. If you look at some of these traits a little closely, you’ll notice that they’re traditional signs of a high EQ.
The question then is, why do all mindful leaders enjoy considerable emotional intelligence?
Mindful leaders enjoy higher levels of self-awareness
One of the many benefits of mindfulness is that it helps you become more aware of who you are.
While you shouldn’t expect earth-shattering epiphanies, what mindfulness does is that it helps you tune into your thoughts, emotions and experiences in reaction to external stimuli. As a result, you’re able to understand what stresses you, what makes you angry, and what helps you feel more in tune with others.
While this just skims the surface of how mindfulness helps you become more aware, all of this, ultimately, leads to greater emotional intelligence. How?
By becoming self-aware you understand what drives you, what your values and principles are. When you are mindful, you’re more confident taking a stand and sticking to what you believe in; basically, you’re not easily led-astray. As a leader, this is an incredibly useful trait to have.
Mindful leaders manage their own stress and don’t push it back on others
Mindfulness is hailed as a highly effective form of stress management. This is primarily because it helps us avoid rumination and catastrophising and makes sure we’re in the moment to deal with the reality of what’s stressful, which, often, turns out less horrible than we make it be.
What’s more, is that mindfulness reduces our resistance to unpleasant emotions and situations. When we resist anything we find too stressful, we immediately create mental barriers that tend to be harder to overcome than the challenges themselves.
In lieu of resistance, what we need is mindful acceptance. When you shift your mind this way, you will find that you’re more open to novel solutions for what you’re dealing with.
A leader who is both mindful and emotionally intelligent is someone who understands why they may be feeling stressed and don’t attempt to blame it on others. They take the time-out they need, process their reactions and deal with stressful situations with authenticity and confidence.
A mindful leader is empathetic
When we tune out of ourselves and into the world around us, it’s easier for us to observe and become familiar with what other people are dealing with and how they’re dealing with them.
In this way, you’re able to understand the emotions other people experience and become more compassionate and effective in your communication, which is another sign of high emotional intelligence: The ability to understand that people experience different emotions in different ways.
For a leader, this skill is indispensable. If you’re not empathetic, you will find it hard to connect meaningfully with your teams.
A mindful leader controls their reactions; they never lash out
A leader is someone who’s turned to for guidance, inspiration, and direction. If you’re someone who can’t control your emotions or reactions to certain events, you will invariably compromise your authority and trustworthiness among your teams.
Mindfulness helps people control their impulses and filter their responses to what’s useful and necessary. Leaders with high degrees of emotional intelligence do the same: They understand what triggers certain emotional reactions, learn from their experiences, and become better at dealing with their reactions and emotions.
Mindfulness is the key to greater emotional intelligence
The connection between mindfulness and emotional intelligence is deep, thriving, and undeniable. If your goal is to become a mindful leader, being emotionally intelligent is a much-deserved part of the package.
For mindfulness resources in the workplace or for leadership development, explore my tried-and-tested programmes and publications. Greater emotional intelligence awaits.