What Makes A Great Leader?


Mindfulness columnist Andy Hix this week looks at what makes an ideal leader, and how mindfulness can help good leadership flourish.

What are the characteristics of an ideal leader? Calm? Focused? Driven? A clear communicator? A good listener? Compassionate? Emotionally literate? Creative and also good at working with the ideas of others? Mindfulness can help people to cultivate all of these qualities. It can help YOU cultivate them. Here’s how.


Meditating regularly results in you having a calmer mind. A calm leader is more able to make good decisions under pressure.


A big part of meditation is about training your mind to focus on one thing at at time. Who wants a leader who changes their mind every five minutes and doesn’t do what they said they were going to because they got distracted?


Mindfulness makes you more self-aware and therefore clearer about what you want and what you value. People who are driven are inspiring and so people follow them.

A clear communicator

A prerequisite for communicating clearly is thinking clearly. Meditation helps you to develop clarity of thought by reducing the internal chatter and helping you to realise that thought are not facts. A mindful leader is able to communicate their vision, what they want and what they don’t want.

A good listener

When you place your full attention on the person speaking, it’s a very powerful thing. A leader who listens is one who is able to work with and build on the input of others. They understand their team and their clients much more.


By becoming more aware of your own emotions, mindfulness helps you to be more compassionate about how other people are feeling. You can relate to them more. Compassionate leaders are inspiring because they are driven by a cause greater than their own ego.

Emotionally literate

No one wants to be led by a robot. Mindfulness helps you to know what you’re feeling and to learn to respond to that skillfully. Only through feeling and understanding your own emotions can you understand others.


When you have a calmer mind there is far more space for ideas to bubble up. You’re also more open to other people’s ideas because your own ego doesn’t get in the way. A creative leader can solve problems rather wallow in how stuck they are.

There’s an old-fashioned idea that a leader is macho man, barking orders, stressed, over-worked, not accepting failure and causing people to live in fear. It’s time to reimagine what we want leadership to look like and create our ideal leaders. And we can start with the man in the mirror, as Jacko would say.

If you’d like to see what this looks like in practise, we’re holding a one day mindful leadership workshop on 29th July. Tickets are available here.

Andy Hix is director of zen at work, a London-based mindfulness consultancy. Get in touch with Andy for a free taster session at www.zenatwork.co.uk.


Photo Credit: gato-gato-gato from flickr