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:
- What do you enjoy about your work?
- What’s fulfilling about your job?
- 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.
- Defines what it means to pull the rope together.
- Limits sideways energy.
- Enables correction.
- Informs reward.
- 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?
Hi Dan – thanks for bringing up the topic of “feelings” and work. I have been following the research on feelings or more specifically emotion and the impact on work performance. I’ve read Daniel Goleman’s books on emotional intelligence and social intelligence. I’ve interviewed several professors studying the impact of emotion on work. I recently attended a workshop by Tony Robbins. I have concluded that emotion has always mattered when it comes to high performance. Emotion matters to your ability to perform at your highest potential and emotion matters to the ability that those you count on also perform to their highest potential. In addition, emotion is caused by others. Since work involves others, then emotion will be at play. Neuroscientists now understand how emotions help our performance and hurt our performance. Understanding the impact of emotion on performance and how to manage emotion in ourselves and in others is a tremendous edge when it comes to achievement in all walks of life.
Emotions also play a huge role in learning and retention. Seligman wrote extensively on Conditioned Helplessness, which I think is fairly common in many workplaces. DDI reported that 87% of first-time supervisors feel frustrated, anxious and uncertain about their new role and that only 11% actually get leadership training. That suggests a debilitating level of perceived risk, one would think.
Rick Bell shared some statistics in the March issue of Workforce magazine about how badly workers are being supervised
35% of US workers would forgo a raise to see their boss fired
44% of employees say they have been emotionally or physically abused by a supervisor
3 of 4 workers say that their boss is the worst / most stressful part of the job
Yeah, Fulcrum, we need to do things better.
Thanks Fulcrum. Yes, I’m a fan of Goleman’s work. Another book you might find useful is Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, et al. It’s very practical and geared to work and personal development.
Your statement that emotion is caused by others is interesting. It’s certain that the people around us have a huge impact on how we feel.
By the way, I chose to use the term “feel” rather than “emotion” because I find it more uncomfortable.
Totally agree. There is a shift. I worked up some new debriefing slides for one of my games yesterday and added a whole section on the emotions surrounding the pressures of play and having to work together with the goal of linking those to the behavioral outcomes and results. It felt a bit too touchy-feely for me, since I generally jump into, “What did you learn…” kinds of questions.
On the other hand, there is SO MUCH that needs to be done at that worker – supervisor interface. The statistics are horrible and it seems that supervisors have NO TIME to actually take time to ask those kinds of questions AND REALLY LISTEN AND THEN ACT ON THE INFORMATION. The whole process can be superficial. (Some data says that performance appraisals actually reduce performance by 1% versus various real engagement things.)
We need to somehow enable and encourage and dis-un-empower the supervisors to do more of the kinds of things mentioned. We need to improve the workplace for a LOT of reasons, but basically because there are people actually working there…
Thanks Dr. Scott. I’m glad you brought this into the interactions between supervisors and workers. I’ve been thinking about one-on-ones a lot lately. I think they are an important subset of interface engagement.
One question that I ask is How do you want people to feel? That’s followed by, What are you doing to facilitate that feeling? You can’t make someone feel something. You can create an environment that is conducive to positive emotion.
In 2012 I was dismissed from a job for ‘hurting my line manager’s feelings’.
That doesn’t seem right!
Sounds like rife to help, I respect feelings , but losing your job, sounds like B.S. unless we are missing something from corporate policy?
Does anyone have any step-by-step guidance or a framework or “how to” help that answers Dan’s question (HOW might leaders clarify purpose for teams and organizations)?
My hope is that someone in this group can share something I can do “Monday,” not “someday.” 🙂
By the way, thanks to all for contributing to this blog with your comments. I cannot thank you all enough.
I am still stuck in the mind of work, work and more work. I notice six months to a year I end up having a huge breakdown. Usually effecting either my career, relationships or health. I am realizing this to be a pattern, so I stopped by to read your post! Along this journey to get out of such a cycle!
I am fascinated by your quest to step beyond thoughts to practical application.
Step 1: “To thine own self be true.”
Clarify your purpose. A leader has some place to go, a reason for going there and the passion, focus, willingness, and determination to get there. Once you have looked at yourself and answered the where, why, and what will it take questions you will be ready for step 2.
Step 2: Live your purpose on Monday morning. Do so clearly without equivocation.
Engage those around you to clarify their purpose by asking those self-searching questions that you have asked yourself. If their search reveals a purpose aligned with yours then embrace them and lead on. If their search reveals that their purpose is skewed from yours then engage them and point them in the right direction.
Step 3: If your questions reveal that your Team and Organization’s purpose is aligned with yours then act with courage to passionately, be on the forefront of leading others to achieve that purpose.
Step 4: If your questions reveal that your Team and Organization’s purpose is not aligned with yours then act with courage and move on. Staying will only result in discouragement or worse, you will seek to manipulate others to serve a purpose that you do not support.
My response is aimed at motivating you and me to ask more questions as that is the only way to discover more answers. How did I do?
Jay brantley – How did you do? You nailed it.
As a leader one must have clarity about who is the ultimate user, how things look and feel like from his/her perspective and what kind of experiences we can dream of creating for them. Challenging assumptions and reframing perceived problems through observation, active listening and empathy is the key.