The Impact of Emotions on Leadership Effectiveness

stressed-execI once asked the CEO of a technology company how his employees were dealing with a proposed change. “We’ve presented all the facts,” he replied. “But it would be much easier if people weren’t so emotional!” In the business world, we are taught to approach organizational challenges objectively and logically.

We quantify everything we can and guard against emotions that would highjack our objectivity. But, according to neurologist and author Antonio Damasio, the center of our conscious thought (the prefrontal cortex) is so tightly connected to the emotion-generating amygdala, that no one makes decisions based on pure logic – despite the belief that we do. Brain science makes it clear that mental processes we’re not conscious of drive our decision making, and logical reasoning is often no more than a way to justify emotional choices.

Nowhere is this link more evident than in leading organizational change efforts, and most leaders are aware of the need to present change in ways that resonate both logically and emotionally. Fewer leaders, however, realize how much their own emotional state influences a team’s (or an organization’s) attitude and productivity.

From The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead, here are five things a leader should know about the link between emotion and leadership results.

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Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., president of Kinsey Consulting Services, is a keynote speaker, executive coach, and leadership consultant. Clients include 105 organizations in 24 countries. Carol is a leadership contributor for Forbes and the Washington Post. She has authored eleven books. Her latest book is The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help or Hurt How You Lead. A leading authority on leadership, change-management, collaboration, and body language in the workplace, Carol has been cited in media such as The Wall Street Journal, Industry Week, Investor's Business Daily, CNN's Business Unusual, SmartBrief on Leadership, Executive Excellence,, NPR's Marketplace, Fox News, and the NBC Nightly News. Carol has served as adjunct faculty at John F. Kennedy University in the International MBA program, at U.C. Berkeley in the Executive Education Department, for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States at their Institutes for Organization Management and is a current faculty member with the Institute for Management Studies.

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