Emotional intelligence allows you to manage relationships with – and awareness of – others. Leaders without strong emotional intelligence tend to be less empathetic. They don’t pick up on the individual nuances of their team members, which results in a more stressful environment for everyone.

Leaders can strengthen their emotional intelligence by employing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of active, conscious focus on the moment; it improves our ability to have big ideas. Dan Goleman refers to mindfulness as being a focused leader. You can strengthen your emotional intelligence by employing mindfulness to:

Reduce Negative Emotional Responses

Do certain behaviors, personalities, or actions cause you to react unprofessionally? Build awareness by recognizing when negative emotions are impacting you, and learn to pause before responding. A pause will give you time to breathe, think through your response, and provide a measured, professional response rather than lash out. Having blogged before about the importance of pausing, I am a big believer in this skill. Think about a pause as the quickest way to reset.

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Reduce Stress

Having the ability to better manage stress not only improves your emotional intelligence but also your executive presence. How we manage stress and behave in stressful situations will impact how we are perceived as leaders. Mindfulness helps you learn to identify when you are feeling stress, helping you to better manage your behavior and your interactions with others. And once you identify your stress, you can use techniques such as breathing exercises, meditative practices, or simply sitting still to bring down your stress level.

Improve Interpersonal Skills

Instead of becoming irritated or avoiding people who are more difficult for you to engage with, practice interacting with them. Be completely present, listen more carefully, and pause to formulate responses. The more effort you put into working on interpersonal skills, the stronger they will become.

Take. Action. Now. to improve your emotional intelligence by employing mindfulness to:

  • Reduce negative emotional responses. Focus on self-awareness. Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions; pause and formulate controlled responses.
  • Reduce stress. Be gracious and grateful. Say thank you. Share credit. Help others succeed. Celebrate your colleagues’ milestones.
  • Improve interpersonal skills. Take pause. Listen more. Instead of thinking ahead to the point you want to make, truly listen to the other person, reiterate what they communicate, and acknowledge their point of view.

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Today’s leaders need to be globally savvy, culturally aware, flexible, and visionary. We tend to measure success in terms of intelligence – or IQ – which does help when fledgling leaders are trying to climb the corporate ladder, but a high emotional quotient – EQ – is even better. In fact, highly emotionally intelligent leaders are more productive, motivate their teams more effectively, and make better decisions. Employ mindfulness in your everyday leadership, and you will no doubt raise your emotional intelligence.


As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

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