First Emotionally Intelligent, Mindful Presidents: Barack Obama, Peter Salovey?

Peter Salovey

Peter Salovey, newly appointed President-Elect of Yale University, introduced the term “Emotional Intelligence” in 1989 as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.

Yale’s new President, is considered a pioneer and originator of research into four elements of EQ used to think and behave adaptively:

  • Accurately perceiving, identifying, pinpointing emotions in self, others
  • Expressing, using emotions as information to decide,  plan, achieve, communicate, create, think
  • Understanding, predicting own and others’ emotions, temporary moods
  • Self-regulating, transforming emotions.
  • Peter Salovey

    Salovey is widely regarded as one who embodies these characteristics and creates community  through his bluegrass band performances with Professors of Bluegrass, active participation in student life (as a Super Mario Brother at Halloween 2009, accompanied by the Yale Symphony orchestra during his tenure as Provost), and award-winning teaching and research.

He applied EQ concepts to business with David Caruso in The Emotionally Intelligent Manager: How to Develop and Use the Four Key Emotional Skills of Leadership

Emotional Intelligence can be intentionally increased in work and personal settings by increasing awareness of one’s own and others’ emotions.
One way to achieve this goal is through “Mindfulness,” or non-evaluatively, non-judgmentally attending to physical, cognitive, and emotional experiences arising in the present moment.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced this practice in 1979 and founded Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
His programs and books, including Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–and Your Life  help develop skill in being “present” through:

  • Observing – expanded awareness with detachment
  • Describing
  • Participating fully
  • Focused, narrowed attention

He discussed the possible impact of these practices on business leadership and government, building on research findings that mindfulness practice can lower aggressive feelings and increase peaceful sentiments.

Kabat-Zinn provided an example in recently-re-elected U.S. President Barack Obama is the first mindful President, “…since Lincoln, or maybe ever.”

The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama

He added that Obama “… is really present, he has a lot of different qualities that seem to indicate he is emotionally balanced, not driven by ego concerns, that he knows how to balance family life and the impossible job that he has.
There is something about him that’s measured, very peaceful, he listens very, very deeply.”

Many observers will evaluate whether Salovey can put into practice Emotionally Intelligent leadership at Yale, and whether Barack Obama can demonstrate Mindfulness in peaceful international relations and domestic issue-resolution during his final term in office.

-*Where do you observe emotional intelligence and mindfulness among top leaders?

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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds


1 thought on “First Emotionally Intelligent, Mindful Presidents: Barack Obama, Peter Salovey?

  1. Pingback: Emotional Awareness Enables Focus, Risk-taking Even When “Stressed” | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

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