Do you know that beneath the surface of the mighty North Atlantic Ocean you will discover calm waters?  Waves are the result of disturbance at the surface. Remaining calm when presented with a challenge is a sign of conscious leadership.  The following highlights five reasons why remaining calm will help you be a successful leader.

1. Remaining Calm Increases Focus and Mitigates Risk

The story titled “Miracle of the Hudson Plane Crash” demonstrates how one leader, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger managed to ‘force’ calm on a difficult situation in order to successfully land his disabled plane, US Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson River. He avoided a crash in New York City and saved all 155 people on board. Captain Chesley Sullenberger offers the full story in his book titled “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters.”

2. Calm Leaders Understand Exercising Calm is Contagious

Leaders cannot afford not to be calm because calm is contagious; as is panic. When things get stressful, push the ‘calm’ button not the ‘panic’ button. By staying calm, you can think and communicate clearly with others. Calm leaders possess emotional intelligence.  Research reveals that:

Emotional contagion is the phenomenon of having one person’s emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other people. Leaders need to be more cautious with their behavior, since their emotional influence is greater than that of a “regular” team member. It has been shown that leaders are more emotionally “contagious” than others.  (Accessed via via Wikipedia January 20, 2017)

Calm leaders are aware of the impact their behaviors have on others. Successful leaders have developed social and emotional skills. If you are interested in the following topics, this post is meant for you:

  • self-coaching; assessing and reflecting upon your emotional intelligence skills
  • coaching others to develop skills in the area of emotional intelligence
  • researching and learning more about the topic of emotional intelligence

3. Great Leaders Are Aware of Personal Triggers

When buttons have been pushed, they understand what is happening – in sensitive situations the emotional brain takes control and determines which course of action to  take. Fight, flight or freeze?  Emotions are natural when setbacks occur; emotionally intelligent people have ways to gently press the ‘calm’ button. By doing so, they not only calm themselves but others too. They are comfortable calmly admitting when they are wrong. Sincerely apologizing for mistakes made or for behaving in a certain manner.

4.  Calm Leaders Deliver Positive Messaging

They use affirmative language, uplifting themselves and others by weaving positivity into communications with others. “There is a great deal going on right now but I managed to get through this type of thing before. I will get through it all! I always have.”

5.  Calm Leaders Focus on the Light at the End of the Tunnel Instead of the Tunnel

Internal self-talk is positive, for example, “I have a lot going on right now but I will get through it all; I always do.”


The following books and authors offer a wide range of resources to guide you on your journey which will include being equipped to encourage others to learn, stretch and grow into emotionally healthy individuals too.  Two authors I enjoying following who are considered leaders in this area are Daniel Goleman and Dr. Travis Bradberry; several of their books are referenced below. There is something for everyone here:

  • Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman includes a variety of case histories from 500+ organizations globally.
  • Emotional Contagion by Elaine Hatfield, John T. Cacioppo, Richard L. Rapson – The phenomenon, known as emotional contagion, is identified here. This book offers compelling evidence for its effects from disciplines including–social and developmental psychology, history, cross-cultural psychology, experimental psychology, and psychopathology.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman (1995) Offers research and personal experience. Examines why EQ is important to our success and happiness. Key message: Nurture our children  so that they may establish a healthy emotional base from which to grow.
  • The Brain and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman Based on 2011 neurological research on emotional intelligence.
Coaching (Self and Others)
  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves – A step-by-step approach for strengthening your EQ. Provides access to an online self-assessment tool. I recommend this resource to folks who are on their self-leadership journey. The total cost of completing this self-assessment includes the price of the book.
  • The EQ Edge by Steven Stein and Howard Book – Shares EI insights for police, lawyers, school principals, students, doctors, dentists, CEO’s; for many different professions.
  • Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman et al – Creates good feelings in the people they lead by maintaining positive feelings in themselves. They understand the concept of ’emotional contagion’ and how it contributes to their ability to create and sustain change and build an EI proficient organization
  • The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves – Helps to assess your EQ, learn more about what EQ means, and get advice on developing EQ at work, at home, and for personal well-being.
Positive Thinking. Positive Messaging
  • The New Psycho-Cybernetics  by Maxwell Maltz. The theory of psycho-cybernetics examines the process of controlling thoughts and emotions. Teaches how to transform thoughts and emotions from negative to positive.
Parents and Children
Project Managers

Sageocracy: Quotes Worthy of Contemplation

In a gentle way, you can shake the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

Peace is its own reward. – Mahatma Gandhi

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. – Buddha

Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath. – Michael Cain

The highest manifestation of strength is to keep ourselves calm and on our own feet. – Swami Vivekananda

Coins always make sound…But currency notes always remain silent. So, when your value increases keep yourself calm and silent. – William Shakespeare

You who are journalists, writers, citizens, you have the right and duty to say to those you have elected that they must practice mindfulness, calm and deep listening, and loving speech.  This is a universal thing, taught by all religions. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Conclusion: Be the Calm You Wish to See In Your World

Building our capacity to remain calm under pressure is a skill worth developing.  The benefits include:

  • By increasing focus, we are apt to spot hazards, make wise decisions, remain safe and to mitigate risks
  • People will want to work with you and for you
  • Attracting and retaining the best talent
  • Healthy relaitonships create healthy teams and organizations
  • It is good for your health, the health of your relationships and organizations’ culture.

Let’s take a page out of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s book and aim to be the calm in the storm. Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and the opportunities that are available – solutions are more apt to align with you in this space.

People are not disturbed by things; they are disturbed by their view of things. – Epictetus

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