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Endurance and Equanimity: Attributes of an Effective Leader - Bonar Institute for Purposeful Leadership

Endurance is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.i

Equanimity is defined as a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.ii

A manager as an effective leader possesses the mental and physical endurance to do the hard yards – to ensure people and resources are managed well to meet the objectives, performance goals and outputs even through the toughest of challenges. A good manager requires leadership qualities to endure uncontrollable externalities from the market, the economy, politics, social issues, technology, environment and the climate, that could impact the organization. 

That endurance is complemented by equanimity – to be grounded, composed, and manage thoughts, emotions and action under extreme pressure and stress – as if one indulges in emotion – one could lose credibility, agency and power.

That is why being an effective leader is one of the most risky and challenging tasks for any manager. What differentiates a manager from a leader is the ability to endure storms with calm composure, yet to have the courage to take responsibility and make tough decisions.

Therefore, leadership requires a completely different set of skills and competency to managing. Having analytical and decision-making skills through logical rational intelligence makes a good manager. Being an effective leader requires emotional, social and spiritual intelligence to complement reason and logic.

Mindfulness for Endurance and Equanimity

This is where mindfulness comes in. Being mindful and self aware, a manager can find the balance between cognitive skills, mental acuity and emotional intelligence. 

A regular meditation practice helps to quiet the mind to put things in context and find perspective in complex situations. The skill is to become aware and accept especially the negative feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, frustration as they arise naturally for good reason. 

The mindfulness practice enables a manager to find the space – even for 5 seconds – to not get caught up in those emotions and react – but rather to gain composure and respond. 

These mindfulness tools require a commitment and patience to practice and embody. This practice enables the mind to stop the thoughts, take a breath, pause, become aware and gain space to think rationally when one most needs it – at the heat of the moment, as stress builds up when the limits are pushed to the edge. 

The mark of a good manager is the ability to take this stress with equanimity, to not indulge in emotion, but to learn to acknowledge them and find ways to respond (not react) logically and rationally on a consistent basis. That is what gives the manager the endurance to be an effective leader.



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