Can Self-Awareness Make You a Better Leader?

Daniel Goleman, coiner of the term emotional intelligence, and his writing partner Richard J Davidson, a pioneer in the field of contemplative neuroscience, have written a new book. Though Goleman is fairly well known as an expert in leadership, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body is not a business book per se. “As we see it, the most compelling impacts of meditation are not better health or sharper business performance but, rather, a further reach toward our better nature.”

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m a fan of both mindfulness and meditation. And I can’t help seeing a connection between growing our “better nature” and strong leadership practices. One of the most important traits that can be increased through meditation is self-awareness.

The kind of self-awareness that Goleman writes about, especially regarding emotional intelligence, is that nothing so skews our judgment and perception—and ultimately our actions and behavior—as emotion. Awareness of our emotions, and figuring out what lies behind the emotion, can help prevent a leader from reacting rather than acting.

Self-awareness creates a pause before responding, and it allows us to respond more skillfully and with intention. The most effective leaders use that pause to their advantage; it makes room for empathy, which is really the flip side of self-awareness.

It’s important, for leaders especially, to be vigilant about how our emotions may be affecting our judgment. If you find yourself frequently regretting decisions, maybe take a look at your decision-making process. Are you taking time to consider your motives, to ask yourself what emotions are driving those decisions that turn out so wrong? And if not, why not?

Self-awareness can improve not just your business life but your personal life. Could you use some help reaching toward your better nature? Send me an e-mail at Scott@doubledareyou.us and we can set up a time to talk.

photo credit: Sworldguy Meditation via photopin (license)