Specifically, these insights come from the book ‘Primal Leadership’ (UK title ‘The New Leaders’) by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. For my money, this is still the best book on Emotional Intelligence as it applies to leadership.
1. The emotional climate affects results
When people feel good, they think and work better, with predictable results on creativity, customer relationships, staff retention and revenue. For every 1% improvement in the service climate, there is a 2% increase in revenue. More dramatically, a 1995 study found that the death rate in cardiac units where the nurses’ mood was described as generally “depressed” was four times higher than in comparable units.
2. Emotions are contagious
Daniel Goleman describes the areas of our brain that process emotions as ‘open-loop systems’. In practical terms this means that the way we feel is influenced by the emotions of other people around us. When we see someone smile at us, for example, the part of our brains associated with smiling “lights up”, which tends to make us smile in return.
3. The leader sets the climate
In any group, the leader is the person to whom people look for clues as to how to respond when there is uncertainty, or a situation not previously encountered. The leader therefore is a key influence on the emotional climate of a group. A “resonant” leader creates a positive mood throughout the organisation, their example encouraging everyone to contribute their best efforts. A “dissonant” leader who engenders a climate of anxiety and doubt acts as a brake on the performance of the whole organisation.
The more expressive the leader (in facial expression, voice tone, and gesture), the more influence he or she will have on the overall emotional climate. Sometimes, where a formal leader is emotionally inexpressive, another member of the group will emerge as the “emotional leader”. This means that you have the ability to make a positive difference to your team’s emotional climate, even if you are not its nominal leader.
So – what examples have you seen of a leader setting the emotional tone for their team, for better or worse?
When have you influenced the emotions of your team or colleagues?
And what are you going to do differently, now that you have this knowledge?