Emotional health is central to the vision and work of Global Leadership Foundation. In raising the emotional health levels of people across the globe, we are supporting them to make mindful and conscious choices and decisions about the way in which they live their lives and how they relate to, and engage with, others.

We know that when this happens, their interactions and relationships are more fulfilling, generous, compassionate and collaborative. Emotionally healthy people take the time to ‘be’ with others. They listen with their body, heart and head to understand what others need, feel and think.

We began using the term ‘emotional health’ in 2001 as a way of describing this very conscious and enhanced state of wellbeing. We knew that without placing a focus on and integrating the body, heart and head centres we could not move up the emotional health levels towards ‘presence’.

We also recognised that simply thinking and talking about emotional health would never get us there. Our practices needed to reflect a genuine commitment to using all three centres of intelligence and creating pathways and practices that moved us towards being present, mindful and conscious.

In the early days of this work, the idea of emotional health presented real challenges to some of the leaders with whom we worked.

To many leaders, ‘thinking’ and ‘intelligence’ were responsibilities of the brain. They happened in the head. Some leaders asked us to provide evidence that the other centres of intelligence existed (though they already knew and trusted their ‘gut’ on frequent occasions).

We were also challenged around the concepts of integration and presence. Some leaders questioned how you could be more effective, connected or courageous by moving up the emotional health levels towards presence. Most, however, acknowledged that movies like The Karate Kid were powerful representations of this, with real-life parallels.

Another common question we have been asked relates to the difference between emotional health and ‘emotional intelligence’ (EQ). While EQ provides a lever into the world of emotional health, its focus is on recognising and managing emotions in ourselves and others. It is a critical and inter-related component of emotional health, however emotional intelligence alone does not build strong emotional health.

The world has definitely moved on since we started referring to emotional health. The concept increasingly appears in the work of our colleagues and in that of other researchers and contributors, albeit with the use of different descriptors at times. Examples include the ‘4 Keys to Human Capacity and Health’, ‘mBit’ and ‘mBraining’, ‘vertical development’, the ‘evolution of consciousness’ and ‘levels of development’.

We are grateful to be part of an ever-growing field of research and practice that recognises the significant contribution of emotional health, by whatever name, to leadership effectiveness (in particular) and the strengthening of relationships and connections at a individual, organisational, community and global levels (in general).

Whatever the title or approach, we can see the results of the work we are all doing and every step brings us closer to our vision. We are proud to know that what we began in our own work with emotional health many years ago is now a reality for so many more people and organisations.