Radically Change Your Leadership, Today
The way you make people feel may be the most important thing about your leadership. It’s frequently the most neglected.
Relentlessly looking ahead to noble destinations is never enough. Efficient systems don’t work apart from people. Values must find expression in behaviors.
Feelings follow us everywhere. What emotional states do you create in others?
Choose emotional states:
If you could help the people around you feel something, what would it be? It depends on the individual. Some need to feel connected, others competent. Still others need to feel informed.
List the names of your key players on a piece of paper and write the emotional state you plan to nurture beside their names. Choose just one state for each.
What behaviors and attitudes can you adopt that bring out positive emotional states in those on your list? How will you creating environments that help people feel connected, valued, or competent?
- Mary – Informed – Invite Mary in for a short conversation regarding your plans for a strategic initiative. Be aware that she will, most likely, share your conversation with others.
- Bob – Competent – Explain how one of his specific strengths will take him far. Highlight something he recently learned.
- Fred – Courageous – Ask Fred what he learned from his last mistake without offering corrections. Tell him, “That’s great Fred. I know we’ll be better next time.”
Leadership radically changes when you value emotional states.
What positive emotional states do you find most important?
How can you create environments that bring out the emotional states most helpful to the people on your team?
Challenge question: What roles might creating negative emotional states play in your leadership?
Great food for thought on a Monday morning!
Thank you Tina. Have a great week.
Emotions can be infectious. I think how we handle our emotions as a leader has a very big impact on how others around us feel. Just before I came and read this, I had a conversation about this very same issue. One of our employees splits his time between three supervisors. Last week he worked exclusively with one and this week he will work exclusively with me. He told me this morning that his supervisor last week was very stressed and that stress was translated to him and he was exhausted by working with her for the week. He also told me that he had worked with me when I was under stress and somehow I never transferred that stress to him and he was looking forward to working with me this week. I think one of the first steps in creating an environment for positive emotional states is to look at your own and how you are impacting the emotional states of those around you without realizing it.
You add a whole new dimension to this conversation. How are we “dumping” our negative emotions on others. That’s something to think about.
I’m dumping when I:
1. I complain about someone
2. express frustration without optimism
3. think I’m a victim
4. expect others to feel the same way I do
Thanks for stirring the pot.
As always, GREAT post, Dan. Thank you. I think this is one of the most often over looked or ignored portion of leadership. I think many times people just ignore stating that, “I shouldn’t have to do these things!” But how wrong they are!!!
Thanks for the reminder!
Thanks for your comment. You are right on… we think offering a solution or direction is enough. But, how we make people feel while doing those things makes a huge difference.
Doesn’t it make sense that people who feel good perform better?
I just relived the moment I had while reading the one minute manager
Hi Sammy, I’ll take that to be a good thing. 🙂
Yeah, you should. It is not the first time I am hearing what you wrote on your blog, I have practiced it, as a leader in a team and it works. 🙂
This post is so good from a teacher’s point-of-view. The positive emotional state I find most important is according to Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs: connected; having a sense of belonging. Next to food, water, and shelter, we all have a need to feel needed. Being connected to a group makes you feel like you have a part in ownership of that group. Then, we are more likely to take very good care of that group.
Can you imagine how much better our education system would be if teachers were concerned with creating environments of positive emotional states as much as they were about test scores?
I think of all the students in classrooms where they are plagued with the list of negative emotions you outlined; neglected, belittled, discouraged I see in English classes; fearful and angry in Social Studies and P.E.; alone and confused in Science and Math.
Teachers who are optimistic and tell students “You can do anything you set your mind to do” (making students feel competent), and celebrating their successes (making them more confident); makes students want to come to school and interact because they feel connected and courageous; and that makes students trust and value their teacher, school, and education.
And, I see the relevance of what you’ve said here to all leaders; principals, police chiefs, doctors, businessmen, etc.
Thank you for sharing another great post!
A wonderful post on leadership and authenticity. I think creation of environment around you depends upon roles, tasks and sensitivity of information. For example, in military, you need to be aware about your role and needs because you are not dealing with people directly. In the service sector, you are dealing with people, so creating environment that connect people who you serve is good strategy. You also need to create environment that does not reveal your strategy outside. Thus, I think in the entire situation, it is trust that connects employees, audience and society together. The companies known by best management practices treat their employees as a partner. They also serve their customer as a God. They respect who they serve. I think it is the trust factor that might create negative emotional state. In the organization, leaders can create harmony and affection when they create transparent mechanism that every one trusts. They should take stand to make tough decisions when circumstances demand. Leaders should be role model even after they leave the organization. Today, while teaching and discussing about ethics and honesty, we find hardly any role models.
Thanks for the powerful words. What an important concept for every leader to grasp. Too often, people in leadership positions just pass on their own emotions to the team and it ends up completely undermining team work, creativity, and results. Leaders who can absorb pressure and then work productively with their teams, helping them feel the right things…those are a rare breed.
Re: negative emotional state–we have to own them, not share them. I’m not there to suck the air out of the room, nuff folks do that without thinking.
Often my frustration, disappointment, or anger are my own stuff unchanneled and undealt with. I need to deal with it and that does not mean to squish it out sideways on everyone else to get it off of me.
And, of course, those negative energies can be converted into something productive…just takes a bit more effort on my part.
YES!!! Docdisc you are right on!
Great post, and so true.
It’s amazing how the leader of any setting (e.g. office, team, department, ship, etc.) sets the tone, positive or negative. And, some managers don’t even realize it! (Perhaps more amazing.)
Great insight in the power of spoken and unspoken language.
Things in reality are not as simple as expressed by you.
Leaders play with both positive and negative emotions depending on the type of people they deal with and the situations that they are in. So long as they are honest and committed they need to encourage, guide and work on optimism with all good performers; while they need to act tough and warn the low performers or destructers irrespective of emotional disturbances which might get created.
In reality, you cannot be soft with people who do not follow laid down systems and procedures and are not part of the team of achievers.
However, leaders need to have a good human touch and should handle difficult employees in a tactful manner.
Best takeaway quote (to me) from this post: “Values must find expression in behaviors.” And I appreciate the specific activity you recommended; a bridge that can help people put thoughts to action.
This is really great advice for leaders. When leaders realize that they can adopt behaviors that can truly assist the people they manage in developing positive emotional states it is a giant step towards the emotional state of the departments they manage. Understanding the personality types of the people leaders manage assists greatly in adopting the behaviors that will be of the greatest assistance to the people they manage.
This information is great! When I was promoted to a manager back in the day, I think this was a problem I had the most difficulty with. It is easy to project positives to others, but to convert negativity into a positive takes practice and focus (not to mention skill). I like to manage by walking around, but sometimes stepping out of the office area in a situation where I am full of internal negativity is just as important. Otherwise, without knowing, I could be projecting them to others.
This is a great post, but these little things are often forgotten in the heat of the moment. It is difficult for me to maintain a focus on these things. Seeing them always is a good thing as it renews my focus on these and also will hopefully convert some of the negative things that may happen into an opportunity for growth. Great post.
the best quote for aritlce is “Don’t get confused between my personality & my attitude, my personality is who I am, my attitude depens on who you are. “
Thanks for this, Dan.
Good leadership is about achieving more as a unit than as a population of individuals, i.e. getting the group to value corporate purpose and align their own behaviors with it. To do so, the leader must:
1) Ensure he/she understands what the mission of the organization is, and espouse it fully.
2) Ensure that the people in the organization also understand and want the same purpose, or that they modify the purpose, or leave the organization.
3) Lead with humility and passion for the good of the organization and the people in it, encouraging a responsive leader-follower relationship with active followers.
4) Abandon old behaviors, adopt new behaviors, and anchor those behaviors in organizational culture to move ever closer to achieving the organization’s purpose in an ever-changing environment.
Your post is vital to steps 2, 3, and 4. The leader needs to be selfless, and work to create an environment where others in the organization are challenged, stretched, yet content with their role in the organization. When all people in an organization are truly motivated, they ignore pettiness and pet peeves, and find fulfillment in their common purpose. We see this in the special forces, among firefighters, in people building levees against floods, in ICU’s in hospitals, in missionaries, and in well-led businesses.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a good model, but it is unfortunately egocentric, except at the highest levels. I firmly believe that the most contentment comes from service and from outward-focused behavior. The leader who can lead by example to encourage others to forget themselves enough to achieve common purpose, while being even more sensitive to their personal needs than they may be, will win great allegiance and respect.
“Emotions ARE contagious”…especially as the boss, so it pays to know what you are feeling. The ‘EQ’, emotional intelligence, aspect for the leader is to be constantly ‘self-aware’ and to use that awareness situationally, as in ‘self-regulate’ if needed or be ’empathetic’ if needed, etc.
Thank for this Dan.
What works for one will not work for another.
Thank you for such a clearly written blog about how to motivate teams. Your actual examples are very helpful because they give a practical way to put a leadership theory into practice. We wrote more extensively about your thoughts here: http://wp.me/p1irwj-wL
Our emotions affect not only us, but our team as well; so it’s key to understand how our thoughts impact our emotions. By learning how to (1) nurture optimistic and motivating thoughts, (2) neutralize negative ones, and (3) stay focus on the task at hand, we can pull ourselves out of a slump before it drags us down. Another great list to follow, Dan!