Anyone with an ounce of responsibility knows “Express Yourself” is poppycock.
Leadership requires emotional control.
In praise of emotional control:
Some get apoplectic when you suggest they should control their emotions rather than express them. They say something ridiculous like, “It’s not healthy to suppress your feelings.”
You feel things your team shouldn’t know about.
You aren’t a two-year old who lets everyone know how she feels NOW. You’re a leader and leaders serve the best interest of others.
- Having a bad day? Tighten your belt. Keep it to yourself.
- Hate your team right now? Find something to love.
- Ready to blow up at someone? Say something kind. (Silence isn’t leadership.)
- Envious of another’s opportunity or success? Find something to honor.
You might say, “If you suppress your feelings, they’ll eventually come out.” Your team isn’t your therapist. Your colleagues aren’t your counselors. It’s unfair to expect them to manage your emotional health.
Yes, you need a friend, spouse, coach, mentor, counselor, or therapist that can hear your crap. But your direct reports deserve better than a boss who spews emotional baggage.
Any leader with responsibility knows self-expression can derail positive influence and hinder effectiveness.
Practice emotional control:
- Notice and reflect on your feelings. What do you really want and what’s the best way to get it?
- Delay responses. Write that nasty email, but don’t send it, ever.
- Discuss your feelings with someone outside your team.
- Get some rest. You’re never at your best when you’re exhausted.
- Eat right. Exercise. Take walks.
- Serve the best interest of others even when it’s difficult.
- Do something for someone who can’t do something for you. Generosity recharges your emotional batteries.
What happens when leaders are emotional two-year olds?
How might leaders practice emotional control?