Every day you wake up with the thought of driving your company forward. If you are like many, you probably fell asleep making key decisions to be implemented the next day. While standing in line for coffee, your mind wandered to that pesky product decision that has hamstrung the team for the last few days. And, at lunch, you forced yourself to consider hiring that social marketing maven you met at the networking event last night.
All of these actions involve intense thought--the most critical element of your company's future success. Right? Maybe not. If you are managing a team, your solo thoughts and subsequent decisions have a limited impact. I would posit that inspiring every team member to operate at his or her best has a much larger bearing on your success.
In my late 20s I had my first opportunity to manage a staff of professional cartographers at the US State Department in Washington, DC. Our newly installed digital mapping capability had inspired the higher-ups to place maps in many more publications than previously. The result was a lot more traffic to our doors from experts writing about some hot international issue. Our collective first response (after they had left our office) was usually to complain about how idiotic their request was.
After a few weeks of this, I had an epiphany one day when I realized that we were in the service industry--set up to augment their expertise. As a service organization, our job was to serve their needs. We were the tail and they were the dog. I had concentrated all of my thoughts and energy into the new digital mapping capability for the team.
But now, I was setting the wrong emotional attitude for the team.
Regardless of whether you are a first-time team manager in a larger organization or the CEO of a new startup--you set the emotional tone for your team. When you commit to setting positive emotions your team invariably grabs that and makes that part of their emotional state. This is called limbic resonance and is a great tool for leaders.
Emotions are contagious. Think of how much more you laugh with others when a funny story is told. The same goes for business emotions. When you create a daily environment filled with positive emotions every team member grabs a hold and spins it back to you. I want to be part of that team!