Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why managing your emotions matters for effective leadership

Many years ago I would hear people say at management meetings “let’s not get emotional about this” or “let’s not let our emotions influence this” and like many other people I would say “Oh ok, I had better not”, although because I had a background in nursing I was always in the unanswered question of “but how do I take my emotions out of myself, aren’t they part of me being human?”

Daniel Goldstein made popular the power of Emotional Intelligence and the importance of being able to manage your emotions. I then studied Ontology of the Human Observer. The branch of ontology centres on how we, as human beings use our language (speaking and listening) our moods and emotions and our physiology (our body) to create our “Way of Being". Through this approach I was able to confirm and feel supported in my understanding that our emotions are an integral part of our biology. In our brain is housed our limbic system which controls our emotions.

So why do emotions matter for leaders?

When you are having a conversation with someone, the conversation is occurring in an emotional space. Think about when you have made a mistake at work and you have to ‘find the right time to talk to my boss’, or when you have to tell someone they didn’t get the promotion, or when you are talking to a person and they start thumping the desk in anger!. Each of these conversations are not neutral, they are occurring in an emotional space.

Our emotions are ‘relational behaviours’, that is, how we behave is influenced by our emotions. These emotions may be: fear; surprise; sadness; anger; happiness/joy; disgust or shame. Each of these emotions will impact on your relationships and behaviours with yourself and with others and in your private and work life.

The key point here is that as a human being you are an emotional being. This is not good or bad, it just is. Therefore it is fundamental that you observe your emotions and then shift your Way of Being to effectively manage yourself and those you lead. To support you to do this more effectively, I invite you to consider:
  • What do you notice about yourself and how you manage your emotions? 
  • What is the relationship between your emotions and the quality of your leadership?

I am assessing that if you did this reflective activity you will have identified some things about yourself that you might want to change.

I am also assessing that you have identified that to be an effective leader you need to be able to manage your emotions. 

Crucial for quality leadership is the recognition and management of your own emotions and positively influencing the emotions of others. This means taking time to continually observe yourself and creating emotional spaces that open up possibilities for you and those you lead. One really simple strategy is to make sure you smile when you greet people. Sounds basic, but I think you can name a person who doesn't do this and the negative impact it has on the workplace.

For a conversation on managing your emotions contact

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