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Should leaders get emotional?

Think about the leaders and individuals that you admire, what is it about them that inspires you the most? What is it that connects you with them?

It might be their impressive accomplishments or something about their characteristics, but chances are that your admiration is dependent on something completely different. It might be that this particular person reaches you on an emotional level.

A lot of the things said today are very sugar-coated and polished. The messages we are trying to communicate are manufactured and really trying hard to strike just the right-tone. This need to regulate what is being said and felt has lead to genuine emotions being overlooked completely. The power and authenticity which emotions bring has also been overlooked, in turn making it so rare to come across.

We hide emotions in an attempt to stay in control, look strong, and keep things at arm’s length. But in reality, doing so diminishes our control and weakens our capacity to lead. We end up not saying what we mean or meaning what we say. And that never connects, compels, or communicates powerfully.

It’s true, being too emotional in business can create problems. It clouds objective analysis, complicates negotiations, and leads to rash decisions. However a study has actually shown that too much emotion is far less of a problem than the opposite — showing too little.

Emotions are critical to everything a leader must do: build trust, strengthen relationships, set a vision, focus energy, get people moving, make tradeoffs, make tough decisions, and learn from failure. Without genuine emotion these things always fall flat and stall. You need emotion on the front end to inform prioritisation. You need it on the back end to motivate and inspire.

Various fields in society face problems when it comes to accepting emotions. The world of science and tech in particular has always been stereotypical portrayed as a field where emotions should not belong. When picturing a scientist for example, the average person will imagine the outdated stereotype of a cold, unemotional, male figure.

The TEDx talk below by Emily Grossman very interestingly outlines the struggles female leaders in science face when it comes to dealing with emotions and the way others perceive this. Even though the focus here is very much on the science and tech side of things, it is clear to see that the general idea is transferrable to any other professional field.

If you would like to know more about the value of emotions in society, take a look at our upcoming event on the 21st September which will be focusing on this very theme with Emily herself as our guest speaker.

More about the event can be found here

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