In your organization, is there any kind of emotional leadership, or are bosses pretty well buttoned-up? How easy is it for people to express their feelings?

In the work I do coaching leaders, many still cling to the idea that emotional expressiveness in leaders is seen as weak and ineffective.

Research into emotional and social intelligence reveals the contrary. Failure to show emotions makes leaders far less effective. Without recognizing our feelings, our ability to make wise decisions is impaired.

Feelings are often suppressed and go unexplored. We ignore them in our peers, employees and customers. We assume everyone feels as we do.

In truth, every human interaction is emotionally charged — especially at work. You can try to ignore this reality, but do so at your own peril.

Your moods, both positive and negative, are ultimately contagious. Expressing your emotions may make the difference between inspiring employee commitment and perpetuating a culture of ennui.

3 Basic Guidelines for Expressing Emotions

Authentic excitement: it’s the emotion leaders tell us they want most in their people. ~ Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern, Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire (Penguin Group, USA, 2004)

Lubar and Halpern offer three guidelines for developing expressiveness that inspires others, influences change and drives business results.

  1. Generate excitement
  2. Put nonverbal cues to work
  3. Find and express a passionate purpose

1. Generate Excitement

Creating excitement begins with showing enthusiasm and fighting the urge to suppress it. You’ll deepen your bond with others by revealing your humanity and vulnerability.

Anger, frustration and pain, when properly expressed, bring us closer to one another. Never forget, however, that expressing emotion has a powerful effect, so think before you emote. Always wield emotions with thoughtfulness.

Unfortunately, we must address one important caveat: It’s wise for women and members of minority groups to proceed with caution. Like it or not, minority groups continue to walk a tightrope between showing authenticity and playing the conformity game.

Yes, we’ve come a long way, but the road to equality remains strewn with unspoken rules and hidden prejudices. If you own your emotions and feel completely comfortable with them, you’ll likely be fine.

What do you think about expressiveness and emotional leadership in your organization? I’d love to hear from you. Contact me here or on LinkedIn.