Emotional Leadership: Bad News for Buttoned-Up Leaders

In the work I do coaching leaders, many still cling to the idea that emotional expressiveness is seen in leaders as weak and ineffective.

Research into emotional and social intelligence reveals the contrary. Failure to show emotions makes leaders far less effective. Without recognizing our feelings, our ability to make wise decisions is impaired.

Feelings are often suppressed and go unexplored. We ignore them in our peers, employees and customers. We assume everyone feels as we do.

In truth, every human interaction is emotionally charged — especially at work. You can try to ignore this reality, but do so at your own peril.

Your moods, both positive and negative, are ultimately contagious. Expressing your emotions may make the difference between inspiring employee commitment and perpetuating a culture of boredom and disinterest.

3 Basic Techniques

Authentic excitement: it’s the emotion leaders tell us they want most in their people. ~ Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern, Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire (Penguin Group, USA, 2004)

Lubar and Halpern offer three guidelines for developing expressiveness that inspires others, influences change and drives business results.

  1. Generate excitement
  2. Put nonverbal cues to work
  3. Find and express a passionate purpose
  4. Generate Excitement

Creating excitement begins with showing enthusiasm and fighting the urge to suppress it. You’ll deepen your bond with others by revealing your humanity and vulnerability.

Anger, frustration and pain, when properly expressed, bring us closer to one another. Never forget, however, that expressing emotion has a powerful effect, so think before you emote.  Always wield emotions with thoughtfulness.

Next week, I’ll go into detail about how you can implement the other two techniques as part of an effective emotional leadership style.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to best express emotion in the workplace!

**Photo credit: alamosbasement via Flickr used under CC license; no alterations made**

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