Agile Leaders And Mastery Of The Self

How does a leader become agile and become a master of the self? What are the steps toward self-mastery?  When we consider the ever-increasing challenge and complexity of leadership, developing inner agility and self-mastery are crucial to leading well.  There are two components that go hand in hand to strengthen agility and self-mastery. One is to increase emotional intelligence and the other is to adopt a mindfulness practice.

When a mindfulness practice is adopted, such as meditation, data has revealed that there is an increase in the ability to listen and listen more carefully. Other tangible benefits are that you are less reactive, there is more resiliency in situations and agility increases.  In the fast-paced world of leadership where decisions often need to be made quickly, a mindfulness practice shows a reduction in stress levels with an ability to remain calm, have more clarity around tough issues, which results in an increase in productivity.

A mindfulness practice needs to become a daily discipline. Neuroscience has proven that practicing mindfulness daily can change the structure of the brain. For example, the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response, actually shrinks, which allows one to be less reactive and more in control of their responses and emotions. This is great news because the number one criteria that derails leaders is lack of impulse control. Emotional self-control is crucial for leaders and a mindfulness practice is the key component for developing a less reactionary style during tough situations.

Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness, the first step toward mastery of the self.  Increased focus and attention enhances self-awareness and is facilitated by a mindfulness practice.  Being still and focused, one can then uncover greater understanding around perspectives that shape your decision making, and how you emotionally respond to challenges and adversity.

When we are focused and centered, knowing who we are and our why, we are more stable as individuals. Being stable with oneself is the cornerstone to being flexible and agile in the face of change. Today, leaders need to have an inner agility to change quickly while remaining stable during those times of change, a test of mastery of the self.  Without a mindfulness practice, a leader can become emotionally unskilled and will often react from a fear-based place. Rather than being reactionary, leaders are more intentional in their actions. They take action rather than reacting.

Where do you begin? There are several apps that you can download to start your daily discipline of a mindfulness practice. It is best if you do your practice at the same time each day. As a mindfulness coach, I offer the EQi – 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment so that you can gain greater self-awareness of where you need to master competencies and develop new strengths.  Working with an executive coach that has been practicing mindfulness, offers you this added dimension of learning how to have an open mind, mentoring you in the art of choosing not to react and listen more. For more information about the emotional intelligence assessment that I offer, please CONTACT ME.

And remember, Success Starts With You!

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers). Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for almost 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Melinda uses assessments to help bring more awareness. Whether you are a leader or manager in transition, need a thought partner, or need to improve your professional presence, Melinda has developed unique and innovative techniques from her background to help you reach higher heights. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder.


  1. Melinda – another helpful, insightful post. Your article reminds me of how it’s natural for most people — with all their built-in biases — to think that they do not need professional training/development. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years without any issues.” Yet, it is through the type of professional services that Dr. Fouts offers that individuals are able to see both their strengths & improvement areas. It is then that they can take action to grow professionally.

    • Hi Bob,

      Thank you for your kind and supportive words. We all can use a coach to help us understand what our box is comprised of and then be pushed to grow beyond the limitations that we have become accustomed to staying in. To your success.



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