Should Leaders Be Emotional?

There’s a Mars – Venus issue that often comes up in conversations around the workplace.  “She’s too emotional to be an effective leader.”  “He’s unfeeling; no one wants to work for him.”  While the question often gets a gender bent, the underlying dilemma is real – what is an appropriate expression of emotion for a leader?  It’s troubling for leaders of both genders, as evidenced by questions and concerns we hear frequently – and even by the very reasons people seek coaching. Continue reading

Spending Time Where It Hurts?

In a recent meeting with three leaders, their frustration filled the room like a boiling cauldron ready to overflow.  We couldn’t even begin our agenda.  Asked what gave rise to such emotional energy, they all pointed to the same thing – encounters with one highly negative person who poisoned the atmosphere.  “We spend 90% of our time dealing with the fallout from this one person,” said Julie.  “It takes up all the time and mental energy we should be devoting to moving forward with plans that are exciting and challenging.” Continue reading

Shedding the Image of the Lone Leader

Can you pinpoint the time in your career where you learned that leaders go it alone – that they are responsible for single-handedly pondering brilliant responses to tough dilemmas?  That they must rely on their instincts?  That ‘the buck stops here’?  Likely, there was no such ‘moment of truth’ – no quote from a book in an MBA class.  Yet in Western culture, we have come to gravitate toward a model of leader as loner, shouldering decisions and crises with little to no emotional support or even empathetic back-patting.  The single most common refrain we hear from top leaders is “It’s a lonely job.” Continue reading

The Limits of Inclusivity and Participation

Brianna was stunned at the results of her 360 feedback.  Though she was clearly a strong leader in the eyes of the Senior VP she reported to, and in the eyes of her peers, the feedback from her employees was mixed.  “I can’t believe it,” she said.  “I thought that would be the strongest positive feedback.  I include my employees in all decisions.  They’re right with me on everything that’s done in this division.  But they’re suggesting I’m only an adequate leader!” Continue reading