Much of what comes out of people’s mouths in business these days is sugar-coated, couched and polished. The messages are manufactured, trying to strike just the right tone. Genuine emotion stands in stark contrast. It’s a real person sharing a real feeling. When we hear it, we’re riveted – for one because it’s rare, but also because it’s real. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable and a little messy. But that’s what makes it powerful. No one is trying to hide anything.
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 – because it hamstrings us. We end up not saying what we mean or meaning what we say. We beat around the bush, and that never connects, compels or communicates powerfully.
Yes, being too emotional in business can create problems. It clouds objective analysis, screws up negotiations, and leads to rash decisions. But in nearly two decades of working with leaders, I’ve found that showing too much emotion is far less of a problem than the opposite – showing too little.
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