5 Emotions Leaders Must Stay On Top of
“Your intellect may be confused but your emotions will never lie to you.” – Roger Ebert
Emotions are an integral part of who we are. In the context of a leader, emotions are critical to practically everything a leader does and wants to do. Whether it’s setting a vision, goal achievement, successfully managing teams, resolving conflicts, building trust, strengthening relationships, managing stress, delivering feedback, or collaborating with others if leaders understand emotions of themselves and those of others, they can see what may not be obvious.
Great leaders are genuine. They don’t believe in quick fixes. They never try to manipulate or take advantage of people through emotions. They make an effort to understand how people are feeling and what will get them all charged up. They ensure that positive emotions are integrated into everyday work to get the best out of others.
Research says that people experience positive emotions more than they experience negative emotions. But positive emotions are more subtle, negative emotions tend to be loud and leave a more long-lasting impact on a person.
So, no matter how positive your workplace maybe, if there is any form of dislike, frustration, anger, resentment, unhappiness or any bitter feeling, you can be sure that it will make a louder noise and wash away all the positivity. This makes it a leader’s top priority to build more on positive aspects in the workplace and neutralise any negative emotions.
Let’s look at 5 emotions which are not only important to drive success in organisations but are also critical given the current turbulent times:
To be inspired by someone or something is to see excellence in action. In the context of a workplace, an employee may feel inspired in more than one way. Each person draws inspiration from different things. Several leaders like Steve Jobs, Narayan Murthy have inspired through the way they work. Companies like Google and Facebook are constantly in the news for futuristic employee policies whether through offering opportunities to work on pet projects or remote working or flexi-working. Sometimes it could be just involvement in an inspirational project itself like Nandan Nilekeni’s involvement in creating the database for Aadhaar.
How inspiration influences employees: What inspiration does to employees is that it makes them aspire for excellence, explore new possibilities, take ownership of their work or even acquire new skills. All in all, it drives them to take action to meet a set goal.
A recruitment team I know closely had turned around a very difficult mandate in record time. The brief they had received from the Director was – “We need to find the right candidate for one of the only three ATM machine manufacturing companies in the world.” It was enough to swing the team to deliver results and tell other teams. Practically everyone on the company knew about this mandate because the team working on it took immense pride in their work.
Pride as an emotion has a high emotional value and provides social recognition. To be successful, leaders and managers must find this very aspect of their organisation which employees can feel proud of. Most successful teams carry a high level of pride to the work they do and whom they do it with.
But as a leader, how do you create pride within a team? Pride for a team or organisation comes from a conscious effort and genuine love of the team and its purpose. It could be through promoting innovation, or celebrating wins, or driving clear purpose. Pride helps people enthusiastically do their job and get through hard times.
How pride impacts employees: What pride does to employees is that it brings about a sense of achievement. It also gives them social recognition. It also becomes the fuel to achieve more and more.
This emotion primarily comes from appreciation. It has a cause-effect relationship. While allowing you to embrace your accomplishments, gratitude, can also keep the ego in check. Your accomplishments will always be better with others’ inputs and involvement and thanking them goes a long way. Also, when we’re thankful and optimistic, others gravitate towards us. Being approachable and encouraging is critical when networking and attracting top talent. When someone appreciates a person, the response should always be gracious, with gratitude and kindness.
How does gratitude influence employees: Gratitude helps employees build social bonds. It fosters ownership among employees – a feeling of belonging with a sense of humility and empathy. In a project which involves large teams and a lot of coordination, gratitude can help deliver smoother execution and build a culture of giving.
It is fitting to speak about the consultant Marie Kondo here. She promotes the philosophy of only keeping things that spark joy, and donating or giving away things that don’t. It’s simple. Keeping your space clean and clutter-free is sacred. It promotes positive energy and helps you be productive. In the workplace too, it is important to maintain the sanctity – whether it’s your work station or your work colleagues. In work, moving a step closer to meeting a goal, receiving praise from a colleague, deployment on a special project team, a promotion or a pay hike brings joy to employees. Joy builds a generally positive environment which in turn is conducive to good work.
How joy influences employees: Employees need to enjoy coming to work. What matters most to them? What makes them proud to work with you, and how to be their best. The more positive and joyful the environment the better the work productivity and lesser stress.
This is another emotion that is so universal – it’s what makes us all human and move forward from hard times. When you fear the worst but still desire for better is when hope helps us live through the day and truly think out-of-the-box. What better time than now to spread hope! The very thought fills us with possibility. In the work context, the situation across the world is extremely tense and grim. It is all very overwhelming and difficult to comprehend. However, it is hope which can provide a silver lining.
How hope influences employees: Hope makes people look for alternative solutions, be inventive and can even push people out of their comfort zones to achieve something for the better. After all, there’s always a tomorrow for us to become better.
While emotions may seem intangible as a parameter, they can become measurable by analysing the impact they have on employees – their attitude, mood and performance.
You need emotion on the front end to inform prioritisation. You need it on the back end to motivate and inspire. Leaders are so often focused on performance, engagement and getting their team through endless tasks that it’s easy to overlook subtle emotions which may snowball. This may seem like adding more to the to-do list, but leaders who find that sparking joy, motivation, inspiration and positivity in the work environment experience fewer issues and shorter lists in the long run, not to mention better results with far less struggle.
At Yellow Spark, we believe people are who make a business successful. We conduct leadership training to foster a more empathetic work environment. To know more write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.