Good leaders get emotional
August 21, 2013 | 9:27 am| | | Start Conversation
Much of what comes out of people’s mouths in business these days is polished and sugarcoated, the messages manufactured. Genuine emotion stands in stark contrast.
It’s a real person sharing a real feeling. When we hear it, we’re riveted. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable and a little messy – but that’s what makes it so powerful.
We hide emotions in an attempt to stay in control and look strong. But in reality, doing so diminishes our control and weakens our capacity to lead – because it hamstrings us.
We end up not saying what we mean or meaning what we say, which hampers our ability to connect and compel. Yes, being too emotional in business can create problems. It clouds objective analysis and can lead to rash decisions.
But in nearly two decades of working with leaders, I’ve found that showing too much emotion is far less of a problem than the opposite – showing too little.
Emotions are critical to everything a leader has to do: build trust, strengthen relationships, set a vision, make tough decisions and learn from failure. Without genuine emotion these things will always fall flat and stall.
Over the last 17 years of working with senior teams I’ve collected a lot of examples of leaders getting emotional – to good end. Here are a few:
“I’m angry that I had to spend three hours dealing with a problem that you created – a problem that you should have handled.
Don’t put me in that position again.” Joan, a partner in a consulting firm, hated conflict and rarely said things like this.
She normally just rolled up her sleeves and took care of problems herself, even if she hadn’t created them.
By: DOUG SUNDHEIM
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