Creating passion with managed emotion
Passionate leaders are intensely focused on clear targets. Emotional leaders express unmanaged feelings that typically hinder progress and hamper relationships. Leaders need passion. On the other hand, unmanaged emotion is counterproductive. John Maxwell expresses the benefit of focused intensity when he says, “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion…”
Effective leaders embrace their passion. At the same time they manage their emotions.
How can leaders who lean toward the emotional side manage their emotions? I suggest, turning your emotions inward rather than releasing them like an avalanche on others. I know I’m breaking with established thinking. Everyone seems to say, “Express don’t suppress your emotions.” However, turning emotion inward isn’t suppression. It’s embracing, internally managing, and intentionally focusing emotional energy.
In my experience, managed emotions that are turned inward don’t explode. Managed emotions come out as powerful, energized resolve. Under their energizing influence, listening improves and discussions stay on target. Furthermore, I’m enabled to overcome resistance, and tenaciously pursue vision.
I’m learning to control my responses, slow my breathing, settle my spirit, and transform emotion into clarified passion. I have three suggestions for those wanting to manage emotion.
First, manage your emotions by self-awareness. Learn to see your emotions rising up. Accept and embrace them. Don’t suppress, direct.
Second, exercise self-control. Withhold natural inclinations to express your emotions with unfettered release. Don’t share a piece of your mind you can’t afford to lose. Learn to calm your exterior, breathe calmly and speak gently.
Third, embrace emotional energy. Draw your feelings inward and use their energy to fuel passion.
Taming the lion of emotion makes leaders predictable yet dynamic.
Many thanks to everyone who left comments on the article titled, “Heated Passion or Steady Calm.” Those comments kept me thinking about connections between leading and emotion. Doc’s brief comment, “passion always, emotions never,” challenged my thinking. I’m not sure I understand what he meant but he made me think.
How can leaders transform emotion into passion?
Great post Dan. Managing emotions is such an essential part of overall leadership development. I am definitely learning to practice more self controland try to appear very posied and calm. Does your post specifically mean negative emotions – ? emotions of anger or disappointment at others behavior. Should we let go of things and channel all that energy inside us. Do we fear that others will take it as a sign that we can be treated like they want to treat us ?
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your insight and questions. I’ll share my experience, for what they are worth.
In this blog, I’m not limiting my comments to negative emotions. I’ve found positive emotions can intimidate others. When they see me fired up about an idea it can hinder their contribution. Rather than hinder participation I want to invite it. If I turn emotion inward rather than outward it frees people to participate.
In my experience, focusing emotion into passion helps people see the things that really matter to me. They don’t walk over me when I channel emotion into focused passion they get a sense that I am determined yet controlled. They see resolve in me yet my exterior is calm. I don’t look weak when this happens.
I’ll add, I don’t always succeed in managing emotion well. 🙂
I hope you keep coming back,
Emotion creates passion and not vice versa. All the passionate leaders are emotionally attracted towards their goal. So to be a good leader, one must have emotion. one must express emotion to trusted ones because he gets support and encouragement and this embraces his emotion many fold and he becomes more passionate. Emotion can be managed by setting goal. Emotion is like raw material and effort and focus make it into passion. Emotion without goal and effort creates confusion and lessens passion. Expression of emotion is a skill that comes from experience and personality.
Thanks for adding the term “goal” to this discussion. I find it helpful and relevant.
“Emotion is like raw material and effort and focus make it into passion.”
What a great way of expressing the idea – thanks Ajay!
I have a different view, more parallel with Dan’s. In my development of a construct called professional vitality (leader vitality) I came to view passion and emotion in this way. Passion is the compelling inner desire to make a contribution to the ‘greater good’ – the desire to ‘make a difference’ using one’s influence as a leader. I see passion tied to a sense of inner purpose found at one’s core – it’s very soulful. Out of this passion comes what I label vigor, which is essentially energy/zest. This energy manifests itself through emotional, physical and mental processes and is fueled by a leader’s passion to make a difference. Passion fuels emotion. Passion and vigor are at the foundation of good leadership. Of course not all leaders operate due to deep sense of purpose / passion, often times greed, power and status get in the way. I’ll save the rest of my leader vitality construct for another time.
Great post Dan ..
Thanks for adding value to the discussion. I’ll affirm the passion that comes from a desire to make a difference. I feel it everyday.
Thanks also for the cool terms you used like vitality and zest.
Tom’s website http://www.tomharvey-me.com/
Thanks and Regards for your insightful comments.I believe, we have many interests but emotionally attached to few and passionate about one or two things. So, the difference among interest, emotion and passion is the magnitude. Interest has the lowest magnitude and passion has the highest magnitude. Therefore, I believe, interest creates emotions and emotion creates
I suppose it is a little tangential to direct emotional expression, but in my environment, sarcasm is how much (negative) emotion is expressed. It seems like each sarcastic remark almost physically pushes us all as a unit AWAY from our stated mission, vision, and values.
Which gets me to your post. Starting with “self-awareness” would be a way to recognize that consistent, biting sarcasm is a symptom of an emotional “something” that is getting in the way of getting our organization’s work done and our clients served.
Love your comment. I’m sarcastic so your comment stings a bit. I’m not complaining. I’m affirming that sarcasm can be problematic.
Great to see you again,
Paula blogs at: http://www.waytenmom.blogspot.com/
This is one area I’ve found I really need to work on. I have a tendency to let my mouth go unchecked which makes sense that it comes from my emotions. I like the idea of embracing my emotions first. It’s a new goal I’m setting for myself. I have a feeling it will make me more aware of my passion and make me a better leader.
Thanks for the post and comments!
Your honesty enhances this conversation.
After 30+ years of leading I’m still learning to use emotion properly. I say that to encourage you. I find others respect me more when my emotions and my mouth are under control.
Success to you,
Taffy blogs at: http://taffyscandy.blogspot.com/
Stimulating thread here, think I am getting a little verklempt!
General thought: emotions are varying degrees of energy, how we manage or channel that energy. (I was glad to see you did not use the words, ‘control your emotions’ Dan.) is whether they come out negative or positive. Planning and practice can help channel emotions (with a goal in mind to add-on to Ajay’s post).
Some emotions, at their high point, are next to impossible to redirect. Being a little bit passionate is like being a little bit pregnant.
Think of what a blast of energy coming in does to a computer system. Channeled well, you get a T-1 line full of rapid streaming information in high definition. Not channeled well, you fry the computer. Apparently, on a neurobiologic basis, little walnut-sized nuclei in the brain called the amygdala are to blame.
Can I turn anxiety into excitement? Sure, depends on how I respond to that energy surge. The more intense the emotion, the more challenging it is to redirect into a positive or negative.
True leadership passion, an intense emotion, connects viscerally to layers of the human experience. It is activating. It is belief. It is a purer energy (on several levels). It is contagious.It is ‘from the heart’ and, shared well, presents a vision of what can be. Again that points to leaders having intent and goal when presenting their passion.
Checking my amygdala at the door,
Holy Cow Doc!
You get more eloquent with every comment!
I had to look up: Verklempt – choked with emotion (German verklemmt = emotionally inhibited in a convulsive way)
Great illustrations and I agree, planning and practice help us learn to leverage our emotions for good rather than harm.
Best to you,
Thanks for feedback, Dan! Presenting passionate beliefs is not easy as the passion has to be genuine and yet not overwhelm the presenter or presentees.
Would that I could claim eloquence over a Saturday Night Live skit from a while back…Mike Myers playing Linda Richman on alocal cable talk show.
“I’m a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic…The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. Discuss.”
Love the discussion and encouragement here Dan! I recognize and actually “feel” passionate about certain things and yet have not experienced the deep level of influence I deeply desire in helping our team move forward in our vision and stated goals. I’ve been learning through a natural process, of “this isn’t working” in to discovering this process of internalizing, which leads me to be more thoughtful, intentional in discussion, allows me time to contemplate what potential “buttons” I personally have, how I can redirect. Still learning, always passionate, I have a lot in my heart, so my desire to get better at this is high. I want us to be our excellent best!
Obviously, I do not know you and your situation, but as I read your post I felt you have the passion for wanting to “help our team move forward in ‘our’ vision and stated goals.”
The key word in this phrase is the second “our.” If you believe the team is not connected to “our” vision and goals, you might consider asking them if they agree with “our” vision and goals. Depending on the human dynamics of the team, consider whether to do this as a group or with selected individuals.
If they do not believe they own “our” vision and goals, they will merely give enough lip service to actions that may lead to achieving “our” vision and goals to avoid being terminated. Sounds to me your team has reached the lip-service stage.
Just a few cents worth of thoughts.
Thanks Jim, I think you are perceptive when you observe our team may not be connected in vision and goals. I think we are in heart, but not in practice. In practice we are very departmentalized. Our team is made up of great individual leaders who are passionate, creative but maybe not collaborative. I’m just one member of the team and hope to be better at helping us by leading from the middle. We have gifted leaders at the table for sure!
Great to see you again and thanks to Jim for chiming in on this rockin’ discussion.
I’m with Jim. Shared vision is central to effective team dynamics. I’ve led where teams didn’t fully embrace shared vision and I currently lead where we do share vision. Believe me, the latter is incredible. Without shared vision its frustrating. You try to motivate. It’s like pushing a rope. With vision foundational motivation is already in place.
You have my regards,
Kim’s blog: http://kimhogue.blogspot.com/
Send me your email address and I’ll send you a series of questions you might consider raising with your team to advance beyond a disconnected group of leaders, probably all competing against each other, to a group of collaborating systems thinkers.
Jim, thanks your awesome! You nailed it! Will Mancini in “Church Unique, How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture and Create Movement” gives a picture of horses tethered to a ring and all pulling in different directions. He also talks about the power of one horse pulling = 1,000 pounds of horsepower and if two horses pull in the same direction horsepower = 2,600. So, why is this so hard to accomplish?
This is a very helpful, post, Dan. I love this sense that emotions can be focused and directed toward positive action.
Thanks for stopping in and being a source of encouragement. Encouragement is a good thing.
Becky is connected to http://leadertalk.mountainstate.edu/
The following was on FastCompany.com yesterday. It is an interesting take on self-control.
Why change is so hard: Self Control is Exhaustible.
In your take on managed emotions I feel I hear you saying not just to turn the emotion inward, but that the purpose is to be able to channel and control its expression. I think the phrase “turn it inward” may bring up different pictures for different folks. In other words, not that the emotion is to be turned inward so it is not to be expressed at all, but turned inward to filter (control/harness) first.
I see it kind of like using a lightning rod to harness electricity. There are three basic scenarios. A) Don’t use a lightening rod, your house/body/situation cannot handle the energy. Damage occurs. B) Use a lightening rod, and the excess energy/passion/emotion is deflected elsewhere, but has little use other than as a relief valve. Or C) Use a lightning rod and harness the energy to channel into whatever project/purpose you like, flux capacitor and all that. Of course, we are the source of the passion and emotions, so the lightning rod dynamic is within. All analogies break down somewhere, but I like the illustration which elucidates moving from victim on the one end to empowered on the other.
the grace of is hear with an grateful