Too often we think of leaders as being a step removed from being emotional. Just as an exercise I asked a number of people if they believe successful leaders are emotional. Without question they all answered, No. Often effective leaders are perceived as cool, calm and in control. While this is true, leaders are still certainly emotional, they’re human and as humans we are emotional beings.
It is via emotions that we carry out our best leadership. It is how we relate to others, how we engage with them and get them to share our vision and purpose.
According to John Maxell, ‘The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less’. So if we are to influence others, how do we do that if not via an emotional connection? Think about it for a minute. Why do we engage and get on board with a leader? What is it that attracts us to them? Honesty, integrity, trust and all of those other leadership characteristics that great leaders embody are important, but they belong to the leader. What happens to us is that we feel emotions in response to their behaviours.
And the leader’s emotions? Well, they can set the tone and the culture of an organisation. A leader who is angry, unapproachable and cold is going to create a negative, unpleasant atmosphere. Conversely, a leader who is openly communicative, engaging, encouraging and inclusive is going to develop a workplace where team members share the vision and are happy to engage and work hard to achieve the shared goals and objectives.
Moods and energy are contagious. Leaders have influence whether it is positive or negative. Whatever influence you have over your staff members will ultimately affect the productivity and bottom line or your organisation. You get to decide, do you want a group of confident, strong staff members who are passionate about the purpose of your business and ready to face the challenges and obstacles they will no doubt encounter. Or do you want a group of people who listen to your every word, do precisely as they are told and never question your direction?
A leader should have a high level of emotional intelligence, with not only an awareness of their own emotions but also of the impact they have on others around them. As a leader it is your responsibility to empower others and to provide them with inspiration, motivation and guidance. This requires open, honest communication using positive behavioural traits to engage the team. They display positive emotional behaviour and encourage the same in others.
It is emotional leadership.