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Emotions: The Core of Leadership Effectiveness

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Emotions- The Core of Leadership Effectiveness

Leaders in today's high-stakes business environment grapple with an ever-growing list of demands. From nurturing employee well-being to driving bottom-line results, leadership has never been more complex—or draining. Add to this the "authenticity paradox," where showing too much emotion can erode confidence in your leadership. What's the solution? Emotional mastery.

Emotional Agility

Often, leaders unintentionally hide their emotions deep within. Some lock them away, believing there's no room for such sentiments at work. Others wear a brave mask, hiding their inner turmoil, unaware of its toll on their spirit. And then, some dismiss their emotions, equating them as vulnerabilities or 'being weak'.

But these strategies are more than just flawed – they're detrimental to your effectiveness as a leader and your well-being, pushing you towards exhaustion. Concealing genuine feelings is like holding water in your hands; it's exhausting, and you're bound to lose grip.

Ignoring emotions is akin to missing the heartbeat of a team, diminishing their enthusiasm and zeal. Emotions are the spark that fuels creativity and progress. They infuse ideas with life, create purpose-driven teams, and rally resources for exceptional results. When leaders undermine this potent force, they inadvertently dim the vibrant energy and ardour that drive organisations to greatness.

Emotions are the heartbeat of our drive and vitality. Like a steady pulse, they underpin motivational leadership and exceptional teamwork. Dismissing emotions dims the very fuel that ignites creativity and innovation. Emotions breathe life into ideas, invigorate teams, and mobilise resources for unparalleled outcomes. By undervaluing this powerful catalyst, leaders risk stifling the dynamic energy and passion that propel a forward momentum.

"Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions." - Daniel Goleman

The Power of Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman, a pioneering psychologist, brought to the forefront the significance of emotional intelligence (EQ) in leadership. He posited that while traditional intelligence (IQ) gets you in the door, EQ elevates you to the executive suite.

Recognising and managing emotions—both yours and those of others—is an indispensable aspect of EQ. Leaders with heightened emotional intelligence not only navigate their feelings but also resonate with the emotions of their team. This ability to 'tune in' allows them to build strong relationships, manage conflicts with dexterity, and inspire teams to deliver their best consistently. Furthermore, in the maelstrom of modern business, emotional intelligence grants leaders the resilience to weather storms and the adaptability to seize opportunities amidst change. By mastering EQ, leaders not only ensure their success but also create a harmonious, high-performing environment for everyone involved.

Steps Towards Emotional Mastery

Before I go into these steps, it's worth noting that emotional mastery is a unique journey for every individual. While these suggestions offer a starting point, coaching provides a tailored approach to harnessing your emotions effectively, enabling you to lead with authenticity and turn those emotions into catalysts for impactful leadership.

Tip #1 - Creating Time to Reflect

As a leader, it's crucial to allocate moments in your day to sit back and ponder. Reflecting helps in understanding the emotional currents that run beneath the surface of daily interactions. Setting aside a few minutes post-lunch or before starting your day can work. This practice grounds you and offers clarity amidst the chaos.

Tip #2 - Setting the Tone Against Drama:

To maintain a harmonious team environment, it's vital to lay down ground rules. For instance, you can introduce a rule like "One Minute of Drama", where team members can vent for a minute before collectively deciding on a constructive path forward. This not only limits negativity but also reinforces solution-oriented thinking.

Tip #3 - Owning Your Emotions:

This means acknowledging what you feel instead of suppressing it. For instance, if a team decision upsets you, instead of brushing it under the carpet, express it: "I felt concerned about the decision because...". By naming and addressing your emotions, you set an example for your team and make emotions a constructive part of the conversation.

Tip #4 - Practice Embracing Discomfort:

Like any skill, this requires practice. Start by sharing a bit more of your felt sense in meetings. If you're unsure about a decision, voice it. If a proposal excites you, show enthusiasm. Over time, as you share more, it becomes more accessible, and you'll find a balance in expressing yourself professionally and authentically.

Leading with Emotional Mastery

Imagine leadership as a journey on a vast ocean. Your ship represents the skills and strategies you've built, and the waters signify the array of emotions within and around you. Carl Jung once said, "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate." As leaders, we must delve into the deeper waters of our psyche, understanding both the personal and the collective emotional currents that influence our actions and decisions.

Leading with emotional mastery means not just navigating the calm seas but also braving the tempests of our inner world, confronting the shadow aspects of our personality, and harnessing the transformative power of our emotions. By embracing the insights of figures like Jung, leaders can cultivate a deeper self-awareness, leading not just with the mind but with the heart and soul.

This integrative approach to leadership—melding the strategic with the emotional, the conscious with the unconscious—forms a beacon for others to follow. When you sail with authenticity and emotional depth, your crew is more likely to rally around you, facing challenges with resilience and creativity.

Always remember: Leadership begins with the self. By understanding your own emotional currents and the broader ocean of collective feelings, you're equipped to guide your ship—and your team—to uncharted territories of success.


If you are navigating change and complexity, I can help you retain and develop your best people, evolve your team, and hone the skills essential to leadership success.

Just click here to book a call and discover how we can collaborate.

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