Leadership is not operating a machine, it’s understanding people so well you don’t have tell them what to do.
Knowing how to utilize emotion is key to great leadership. First, we have to know ourselves well enough to understand the emotions, quirks, weaknesses and strengths of the people we lead. We cannot move people unless we can create a meaningful emotional reaction in them. Teams cannot be effective through one-way, mechanical, linear management. There is nothing to inspire our team when our leadership lacks the creativity that the emotions can bring.
As leaders, we have to be flexible, risk taking, conservative when necessary, but mostly we have to be a person our team members admire and are motivated to impress. A simple fact is, when people feel good they are motivated to do better. To follow are the keys to emotional leadership.
1. Self knowledge
To be an efficient leader we need to understand what deeply moves and motivates us and others into action. Working through times of burnout is challenging, especially when desired goals seem miles away from coming to fruition. It is in these times we have keep the emotions of our team members high. We do this by reminding our team members of what they’re striving so hard for. When we hold meetings, it’s wise to use motivational quotes or movie examples with an underdog theme to remind our team members how persistence always pays off in the end.
When we hold strong in our own self-awareness and we communicate our belief in what our team is capable of, they will feel inspired to exceed our expectations.
2. Presence of mind
To lead our team into success, we must embrace the knowledge that emotions are more powerful than thoughts. Emotions are so powerful that when they are negative they completely hijack us from our rational thought process. In the face of conflict even the most rational people, when dealing with intense emotion, lose their capacity to think straight. Amidst the turmoil of events, it is critical, as a leader, to maintain our presence of mind to positively and effectively work the through barriers and hand to get our team closer to their goals. The more exposed we are to working through turmoil, the better able we will be in getting our team to rise above the smallness of the irritating details they encounter.
The best way to lead our team back to hope is to start talking to them in terms of what is possible, rather than how far away they are from their desired goals.
3. Gauging emotion
Exceptional leaders recognize that human emotions follow a logical pattern — emotions rise and emotions fall. When team members are over-stressed or unmotivated we have to gauge what is going on and what kind of intervention is necessary to pick them up.
Offering incentives is a great way to get our team motivated and back into action. We must be good on our word and reward when rewards have been promised. We must be leaders who live by our word and walk our talk. When there is a great success, our team members must be acknowledged and given the time to celebrate and revel in their accomplishments.
We must allow our team to breathe after they achieve. It is important to provide breaks for them to simply be human. Providing this drives the emotions that create feelings of bonding, as if they are a part of something special, that they are appreciated and that their role is valued. We can drain them dry of all the necessary emotions which motive them to produce when we overwork them. It is wise for us to remember that our team members do not live with the sole purpose of serving our needs. The more we gauge the emotions in the people we lead, the better we protect them from burnout.
4. Think emotionally
Great leaders think in terms of putting other people first. The first thing we must pay attention to are the moods and emotions of our team members and the customers we serve. We must teach our team that success boils down to great customer service.
The emotions of our team members have to be contagious enough to influence the feelings in their customers to keep them interested and engaged. If, as leaders, we consider, nurture, discipline, guide and motivate the emotions and subsequent behaviors of our team members, we give our team members a model to follow for how to be more thoughtful and connected to the people and accounts they serve. When we think emotionally, we think in terms of serving. We want to make sure we satisfy the accounts we have, court the accounts we want to secure and nurture our team members to feel confident they can meet all those ends.
5. Emotional uniqueness
The problem when leading any group is that people inevitably have their own agendas. We have to create an environment where our team members do not feel constrained by our influence, but rather feel that it is in their best interest to follow our lead. We need to create a sense of participation while also protecting our team from falling too deeply into group-think patterns where individual uniqueness is minimized. Each person on our team will require something different from us as their leader. Each team member should be given goals specific to their individual agendas, so they have the space and permission to focus on what exactly it is they specificially can bring to the table.
Emotions are the most powerful determiners of both experience and perception. To proficiently lead our team, morale begins with the attitude we bring to the mix. We have to be positive and encourage our team members to think less about themselves and more about how they can have a positive and lucrative impact on the team.
As leaders, we must have the speed and adaptability to stay on top of each team member so we can make decisions one step ahead of them, enabling us to continually paint the picture of where the team is headed and how close they are to achieving their individual and collective goals. We must motivate our team to feel totally engaged in the mission they have been designated to achieve; turning their individual goals into a crusade that sets the entire team up for increased success. There is nothing better for our team members than to witness their wins have a significant impact on the team.
This article was originally published at Entrepreneur.com.