Why Feelings Matter From Someone Who Thought They Didn’t

Feelings matter more today than they did when I was young.

I’m old school. It doesn’t matter how you feel. You show up and do the work. Being brought up on a dairy farm in New England where feelings are an inconvenience contributed to my orientation.


Back on the farm, work centered on work. Today, organizations are moving toward a people-centric focus. Translation? We care how people feel.

Back in the day, you sacrificed enjoyment on the altar of advancement. Drive was more important than enjoyment.

Drive still matters. You’re on a dead end without it. But leadership is more complex today. We’ve added feelings like enjoyment and fulfillment to the mix.

Now leaders explore questions like:

  1. What do you enjoy about your work?
  2. What’s fulfilling about your job?
  3. How can we create environments where people love coming to work?

Feelings are energy, either good or bad.

Purpose is passion.


Leaders talk about destination and purpose. Management asks what, how, and when. Leadership is about where and why. Where are we going? Why does it matter?

Purpose is found in story. What’s the story of your organization? What are the formative personal stories of the people you work with?

Every leader needs to know the formative stories of everyone on their team.

Unified direction – clear purpose:

Purpose is the channel to energy and fulfillment. Without clear purpose, organizational culture is a creepy swamp where all that matters are the numbers.


  1. Defines what it means to pull the rope together.
  2. Limits sideways energy.
  3. Enables correction.
  4. Informs reward.
  5. Describes useful development.

One reason engagement levels are abysmal is leaders push for performance but neglect purpose. It’s impossible to pour yourself into something when you don’t know why it matters. 

How might leaders clarify purpose for teams and organizations?