Emotion: Tapping the final frontier

132301_cheersquadThe roar of the crowd watching football on a large-screen TV on Saturday immediately drew me into the cafe.   And it wasn’t even my team playing!

What makes sport such a spectacle to watch is the emotional rollercoaster it unleashes on players, fans and even unsuspecting passers-by.  Could you imagine watching sport and feeling nothing?  No emotion – that would be almost impossible.

In the business arena, despite embracing the need for emotional intelligence, we shy away from emotions as being too messy, unpredictable and dangerous.
Philosopher Descartes said ‘I think, therefore I am’.  When it comes to sports or business, I prefer this twist on his words: ‘I feel, therefore I am’.

So how can leaders tap into emotion at work?  One way is to speak to the emotion in the room, as this is often the biggest undercurrent in any situation.

A senior leader announcing the company’s new hot-desking policy started by sharing what he felt when he first saw the policy.  “Yesterday when I opened the email announcing the new hot-desking policy, I immediately felt “Here we go again, another sexy label for what seems like a cost-cutting measure.”

Immediately you could see the nods around the room.  By speaking to the emotional elephant in the room, the leader earned both trust and respect.  He then went on to explain why his initial fear was unfounded.  Imagine staring at the emotional end of the stick instead of the logical end.  As Richard Branson said: “In business your intuition and emotions are there to help you.”

So where have you seen this done well at work?  Please comment, I love hearing from you.

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  • Stephen Burke

    Emotion can indeed be a useful tool. Perhaps it’s worth considering however that without congruency ’emotion’ may be seen as at the least disingenuous but perhaps manipulative.

    Many ‘leaders’ misjudge the innate ability of people to identify ‘bull shitters’ to use the parlance.

    I am constantly aghast at the political class in this respect. Perhaps that an opportunity for you.

    Thanks for the blog.

    • Yamini Naidu

      Thanks for your comment and great insight. Emotion and storytelling too can be both used well or to manipulate and as you have pointed out we see this sadly too often in the leadership arena. Research tells us that Australian audiences have the biggest BS detectors!

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