Is There a Time When Leaders Should Show Their Emotions?

Is There a Time When Leaders Should Show Their Emotions?

All leaders are faced with a tremendous amount of responsibility. But with that businesslike attitude and heavy baggage comes feelings and emotions. I generally keep my emotions in check, and frequently, people close to me don’t really know how I feel about something. More recently, I have been navigating how to express myself in a way that fits with our culture but also allows me to share my passion. I know other leaders and entrepreneurs have this in common. So when is the time to share your feelings?

[Related: 5 Strategies for Building Your Emotional Intelligence]

When to Share

Most of the time, I go about my day with a pretty neutral outlook. I’m fairly even-keeled. Although it is rare, I have been brought to tears when I am filled with pride, share in my team’s excitement, or share in their frustration. As a leader, I worry that I am weakening my position by showing these emotions. But sharing feelings with my team has more do with trust than it has to do with character. When I do share, it is for a purpose, including the following:

To motivate. Motivation is tricky. As a college athlete, I look back on all the coaches I have had over the years. They showed balance by motivating us using both fear and praise. I try to mimic this in day-to-day leadership. For example, we occasionally host competitions internally for various reasons: to get new ideas, encourage healthier behavior, boost sales, etc. This is when I bring out the praise and encouragement. Other times, I have to motivate by expressing disappointment. For example, our company always documents our processes and shares information internally. Just last week, I expressed frustration that documentation was not happening quickly enough. When I think that something should have already been accomplished that isn’t, I feel angry and let down. In my experience, your team will react faster when they feel you are disappointed rather than simply upset.

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Marjorie Adams is president/CEO of Fourlane, a firm that improves the efficiency of client accounting departments through bookkeeping, tax, software consulting and business process training. The firm specializes in showing customers that they can continue in higher level QuickBooks products as they grow. In her spare time, Marjorie catches up with one of her six sisters, sweats through a morning run, reads a business book or watches the latest AMC show.

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