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Friday, 17th of November 2017
Why leaders should not have emotions

Emotions VS Feelings

As an ambitious leader you're probably deeply engaged in everything you do, and that's a good thing!
Unfortunately being deeply engaged also brings a few unwanted side effects, like becoming emotional about certain issues, or experiencing personal discomforts when things don't go as they should go.

That has mainly to do with the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the concepts around emotions and emotional investment.

Read on to discover the truth behind these concepts.

"Being engaged" is frequently linked to being deep emotionally connected to the case. This is a first misconception. There is a big difference between the emotional investment you make and the physical and mental involvement. If you want to understand the difference in full detail, then listen to the podcast episode of the Ambitious Leader Podcast: "How to live with LOW investment and HIGH involvement".

Beside that, there's also another misunderstanding: the difference between emotions and feelings.

Emotions are: Examples: anger, frustration, falling in love

Feelings are: Examples: the feeling of love, being satisfied, being at ease

So when we eliminate the misconceptions, then we can say that having a lot of emotions as a leader is not really helpful, especially because it triggers fight, flight or freeze actions. This is something completely different that having a lot of feelings as a leader, because that will build empathic connections. So, emotions will weaken you as a leader; feelings will make you a stronger leader!

Now how does it look to lead with a lot of feelings, and without emotions?

Imagine that you need the support of another department for something you want to create within your own group. It is a very important thing that you want to realize, and your people are counting on you to make it happen. But at the same time you notice that you don't get the full support of the other department (they're probably to busy with who knows what).
Do you already feel the frustration coming?
That are the emotions at play. When you feed those emotions by for example start to complain about the non-support that you get, then the emotions will grow. If you approach that supporting department out of those emotions, then probably the situation will escalate.
If you leave the emotions for what they are, and you step into your feelings, then probably a lot of compassion will come up. Compassion for the supporting department because they are so busy, and that they don't get their stuff organized in the correct way so that they can handle your question. If you approach that department with that mindset, chances are much bigger that you will build and empathic connection and out of that empathic connection can grow a solution that is good for both.

Now this doesn't mean that when you approach them out of a state of compassion, that you allow them to be late or lazy. The responsibility is still placed there where it should be placed, and they will still need to deliver on time and with high quality standards, but you approach it from a totally different angle.
You approach it from an angle of striving for a better whole, and a good solutions for everybody, instead of approaching it out of an attitude of frustration and blame.

And if you think about how you would react for yourself, then you will probably understand that the latest (frustration and blame) will cause totally different reactions than the first (compassion and striving for a better whole).

Being and staying in a compassionate state, and staying away from your emotions, is not always easy. The good news is that you can control your emotions!
The 90 seconds rule is a good reminder to help you in that:
If you feel that an emotional reaction is triggered by something that happens, then try to get through the first 90 seconds. If you don't feed the emotion for 90 seconds, then you're attitude is stabilized again. You can try to get through that first reaction by deep breathing, or walking away.
If you do so, then you will become stronger and more effective as a leader, because you are not driven by something outside of yourself!

If you find it very hard as a leader to stay away from your emotions, and it's hard to apply that 90 seconds rule, then feel free to contact me.

Written by Dennis Fredrickx

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