Emotionally talented leaders have the unique ability to feel tremors that others don’t notice. They also have the rare ability to defy the emotional gravity of a situation. They are much more effective during times of crisis. They don’t tend to “wear out” their charges with their happy-today-manic-tomorrow behavior. In short, they are leaders of the mood state — they create and foster a positive one through their example.
In his powerful book, Primal Leadership, Dr. Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Intelligence) quotes research that links the mood state of a company or team to future earnings. His conclusion was that companies that enjoy a positive mood state are more likely to succeed because of employee engagement and the resulting customer satisfaction. Over and over again, I see that this is true. When I see a sour mood, I see future problems such as high turnover, inward-non-innovative thinking, CYA behavior, turf battles and most of all information quality breakdowns.
If you’ve ever been on a flight where the airline just cut employee benefits, you’ve experienced the natural customer experience impact of a bad mood state. Ticket takers aren’t very talkative. Flight attendants snap and goose step through the cabin, making customers turn off, stow and shut up.
If you are wondering how the mood is at your work, here’s the acid test: When people show up in the morning, at that moment where they turn off the car and have that second of silence before they grab their security badge and cross the threshold–do they have a song in their heart or a pit in their stomach? As that answer goes, so goes the quality of your leadership.
If you want to lead, lead the mood state upwards. Go to work in a positive mood. And don’t forget to “tell your face” because that is how other’s will decode your mood. You might want to reconnect with your gratitude for your career and role. You may even reconnect with your company’s value proposition and focus on what you do for your customers and how it changes their life.
Your example is contagious. Moods spread. On the other hand, you may need to lead by being a defender of the good vibe. If a Chicken Little in your office is attempting to install a negative mood, treat them like hackers at the firewall. Tell them that their thinking is bad for business, and unprofessional. It’s OK for someone to disagree or ask questions, but they cross the line when they begin to contribute to a negative mood state. This is a fresh form of leadership that anyone can employ. As Mark Sanborn says, You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader.
I’ve seen the front office receptionist set the tone for the company. I’ve worked for regional VPs that could put a smile on your face on a rainy day. If you lead the mood state, you lead your company into the black.
Recommended reading: Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman
Check out: Article in today’s New York Times — Help, I’m Surrounded By Jerks!