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Daily Leadership Thought #193 – Emotional Control Is Not Optional

August 12, 2011

Free Emotional Woman with Hand on Face Stock Photo

Nothing is more distasteful to employees than a boss who has no emotional control over their own emotions.  People look to their leader to lead with confidence and resoluteness, not to “suffer the slings and arrows” of their emotional ups and downs.  Of course, there will be adversity and disappointment – that’s part of any job.  However, what separates great leaders from everyone else is that they get calmer under pressure and have an unflappable nature about them when things go wrong.

Leadership implies responsibility and to be responsible you need to act accordingly.  I do not expect leaders to be automatons who never express emotion.  Having an emotional reaction to things is a part of being human.  What you can’t allow is for your emotional reactions to be disproportionate to the situation or to give the impression that you are easily triggered.  Always remember you are on stage and have an audience (even if there is only one other person involved in the interaction).

Your employees will take their lead from you and the work culture will end up closely resembling how you solve problems, treat people, and manage conflict.  If you are anxious, they will get anxious.  If you are mean spirited and throw people under the bus, they too will behave this way.  If you hold a grudge, they will hold a grudge.

Talented leaders get the most out of other people.  They know how to inspire and motivate others effectively.  They serve as role models on how to act and handle professional situations.  They naturally engender confidence and respect.  You can’t do this if you don’t have control of your emotions or if your behavior seems unpredictable or erratic.

Leaders are often forged in the fires of chaos, adversity, and great stress.  People just naturally want to follow them because they tend to take charge in a professional and reasonable manner.  Whether they have the answers or not, they understand that the best way to make progress is to channel the organization’s energy in a positive direction.  They create the space where others will step up and seize the initiative when needed.

High performing leaders intuitively know how to inspire and motivate others.  They serve as an example of how to act and handle challenging situations.  They naturally engender confidence and respect.  You can’t do this if you don’t have control of your emotions.  People need to feel safe and empowered in your presence regardless of the circumstances.