Leading Your Emotions

Monday morning office reading.

I have already said in one of my previous posts that working in this part of the world includes higher emotional notes while doing business. If I were to be very explicit and speak my native drama language: we go from comedy to tragedy and back in 30 minutes or less. I’m a graduated drama writer, I have a lot of experience working with artists and journalists, so one could say I have an unofficial PhD in dealing with high emotions at work.

During job interviews you usually get questions about your leadership style. I never thought too much about that because leadership was kind of a natural thing for me. It looked to me like explaining how to ride a bicycle or run.  But then I started thinking about it a bit more. I will explain 3 situations because I hate big quotes, general wisdoms and tips and tricks that you can find on Facebook and LinkedIn posts.

Once I was in a position to take over a team that came to the very end in cooperation with their previous supervisor. They simply didn’t manage to find the way to work together. Supervisor was right, but still… Elegant solution was to do some kind of re-shuffling of duties and I got this team. No one was humiliated. At the first meeting I was the only new person there. But I jumped immediately into the topic and started working on major issues right away. After the meeting, the marketing director approached me and said: “You said all the same things as the colleague who led the team before. They were after his head and now they smile and they are happy to listen to you. What is the deal?”

Respecting people’s emotions is one of the key things while leading teams in my opinion. You can tell someone bad news in a way that hurts the least or you can tell them very good news but people will still feel like shit. Respect emotions.

The second example refers to the time when I was unable to establish successful cooperation with one of my peers. Nature of the job was pushing us toward very close cooperation and it simply didn’t work in the long term. After one big and unpleasant talk about it, with the outcome that one of us should leave the company, we had a presentation for major client. And the presentation went extremely good. Few weeks later, other colleagues were shocked by the fact that no one could tell or feel anything about what is going on in the backstage. It looked like well-rehearsed presentation of two guys who work smoothly together.

It’s again about respecting emotions. There is always a time and a place for everything. Even if you have to tell someone toughest things pick the time and place to do it. And exclude the unnecessary audience.

While my first two examples are about staying and fighting, my last one is about leaving. I think that one of the worst things that can happen to you as a leader of the team is to stand in front of them, lie to them and know that they are aware of it. I was in a position at one point of my career to do that too often. Sometimes you can fight against it but sometimes you are simply defeated. And I’m not the person who plays Force Majeure card. “The big boss ordered” or “We have to do it like that…”

Then your only choice is to leave. In that way you respect emotions and intelligence of the people you lead, but you also respect your own emotions. Of course, if integrity is something you value.

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Leading your own emotions is essential for successful leadership of teams and people. Respecting other people’s emotions is even more important. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be tough and demanding. It just means that people should respect you enough to wish you to be successful. Otherwise it’s like forcing someone to love you.

Showing emotions in business is not my cup of tea. But respecting emotions in business is. Cheers to that!

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