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Like everyone else, leaders are emotional people. Their emotions shape their behaviors and decision-making. Instead of dismissing emotions, intelligent leadership focuses on deciphering and controlling them. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence, two cornerstones of intelligent leadership, rely on emotions.

Honest, emotional leadership is genuine leadership. Leadership coaching appreciates the power of vulnerability. Leaders willing to show their emotional, vulnerable sides find it easier to build meaningful relationships and trust. Vulnerability and emotions smell like honesty, and honesty begets trust, the hard currency of intelligent leadership.

Leaders may feel tempted to hide emotions and attempt to appear strong and assertive. Little do they know, however, that in doing so, they surrender control and harm their abilities to lead.

emotional leadership

Emotional leadership is genuine, trustworthy leadership. 

Genuine emotions are essential to leadership. They’re the necessary prerequisites of all meaningful leadership behaviors.

Emotions allow leaders to:

  • Set comprehensive visions and communicate them to employees with passion and conviction.
  • Build trust with employees and other stakeholders. Without trust, leaders can’t hope to inspire and empower followers.
  • Focus energy on things that matter and make the most sense from the perspective of intelligent leadership.
  • Motivate people to do their best work, assume responsibilities, and coach peers to success.
  • Make tradeoffs and compromises to forward the interests of organizations.
  • Make difficult decisions that require sacrifices.
  • See setbacks as learning opportunities and emerge stronger and more versatile from failures.

Leadership coaching recognizes emotional intelligence as the centerpiece of intelligent leadership. Executive coaching professionals understand the role emotions play in the new leadership paradigm of the post-industrial age.

Self-awareness is another component of intelligent leadership that relies on emotions. It can unleash constructive leadership behaviors and attitudes.

Often, we don’t show our emotions because we’re unaware of them. We may feel anger and frustration and choose to vent or suppress these emotions without realizing what we’re doing. We do the same with joy, inspiration, excitement, and motivation.

Ingrained gender biases, the remnants of the industrial age leadership paradigm, don’t help emotional leadership. Such biases bill men as weak and unreliable if they show emotion. They label women hysterical and dismiss their emotions. Biases that deem emotions redundant or counterproductive sabotage honest, effective leadership.

Being Aware of Our Emotions

Executive coaching sees self-awareness and emotional intelligence as two cornerstones of intelligent leadership. Your executive coach will encourage you to become aware of your emotions. You can achieve a higher level of self-awareness through relatively simple exercises.

self awareness

Self-awareness lets us decipher our emotions. 

Take a short break once or twice a week and ask yourself how you feel. Pay close attention to your emotions and write down your feelings in a journal. Figure out how your emotions influence your actions and behaviors.

The Role of Emotions in Decision Making

The decisions we make are seldom exclusively rationality-based. Our decisions always involve emotions, whether we like them or not.

Empathy and emotional intelligence allow us to uncover hidden things when rationality doesn’t. Strategic and interactive situations require thorough understandings of the motivations and feelings of the other parties involved.

Business coaching professionals understand our emotions evolved to help us with decision making, but they aren’t always helpful in the context of intelligent leadership.

Meeting people different from us may elicit deep-rooted, tribal, negative emotional reactions. While such emotional reactions may have been useful in the past, they’re now counterproductive.

Self-awareness allows leaders to identify negative emotions and biases. Leadership coaches help them achieve necessary levels of self-awareness. Once they understand the sources and natures of their biases, leaders can deal with them. Similarly, once they understand their positive emotions and their impacts on decision-making and leadership behaviors, they can add them to their reservoir of positive leadership references.

Emotional leadership is not a choice or an option. Like decision making, leadership is inherently emotional. It’s up to leaders and their coaches to ensure emotional aspects of leadership are used to organizations’ advantages.


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