During a recent Annual Planning season, one of my clients was moved to tears while reflecting on the past year. He was recounting a “personal great,” and filled with pride for his daughter while sharing a few of her significant accomplishments. He struggled to finish the story, and ultimately needed to take a short break to compose himself. Throughout this touching, heartfelt moment, he kept apologizing to his team for being so emotional.
Lead With Your Heart
For many people, showing too much emotion at work is a “no-no.” They suppress joy, frustration, and anger in the hope that they’ll maintain their composure, concentrate more fully on the facts, and make better decisions (or simply avoid being embarrassed about an “outburst”). And while frequent temper tantrums and serial instability can be destructive, I’ve repeatedly seen a genuine expression of real, raw emotion lead to HUGE breakthroughs for entrepreneurial leadership teams.
Truth be told, I regularly witness crying, yelling, and various other forms of passion in a session room. Running an entrepreneurial company can be hard. Most of my clients spend far more hours at work than they do at home with their families. They pour themselves into their businesses as if their lives depend on its success or failure. They worry deeply about the well-being of every employee and most customers. And they often have to make tough decisions that adversely affect someone that matters to them very much.
So please, don’t be afraid to lead more often with your heart. When something brings you joy or sadness – at home or at work – share it with your leadership team. Celebrate success and suffer failure acutely – and together. When you are angry, let the people who can help you solve the Issue that’s causing your anger know about it – in no uncertain terms. Explain yourself in one sentence, with passion if necessary, even if it hurts. As long as you attack the Issue (and not the person), a great team working together can solve even the most frustrating Issue.
And if every once in a while you cry, or raise your voice, or even get up and stomp around a bit, I’m guessing your fellow leaders will remember that you’re a human being. Like the team whose leader was moved to tears, they’ll appreciate it – and they may even join in!