Does being the CEO vs being the payroll manager affect the way you express (or don't express) your emotions? The higher that people rise up in the ranks and the greater their list of achievements, the more likely they hit the "off" switch on their emotions.
It is a scientific fact: the more successful you are, the harder it is to feel and understand what others feel and understand.
The unfortunate result is that the more successful you are, the less authentic your leadership becomes. It turns out that power diminishes all varieties of empathy in the brain. Power affects what is called the brain's "mirror system."
Leaders without empathy and the ability to connect with their people are doomed. Or at the very least, they're in for a big challenge when it comes to achieving sustained success.
Organizations are best poised to succeed when they have people who collectively believe in the big picture and are engaged, motivated, and dedicated to putting forth not only effort, but also extra, discretionary effort.
The effort they don't HAVE to give, but WANT to give. When a leader lacks emotional intelligence and can't connect emotionally with others, this just won't happen.
Here's the good news. It is possible to achieve career success - and power - without losing all emotional capabilities. In fact, emotion and intellect are both essential to success.
Our emotions motivate us to feel passionate about our work, fight for our beliefs, have compassion toward others, and so much more. And our minds are the engines behind it all. The key is to marry both sides of our personalities and never let one overshadow the other.
To lead with your heart, use your authentic self - the one that isn't afraid to show emotion in the workplace - to inspire the people you work with. Here's how:
- Show vulnerability by losing your ego. The only way to make sure people give you their discretionary effort is to be real with them. Admit when you don't know something. Keep your ego in check, practice humility, and strive to listen more and talk less. These are the qualities that others respect, trust, and want to see in their leaders.
- Demonstrate honesty. Here's the reality: most of us don't like confrontation, and we'll do whatever it takes to avoid it - including telling the truth. Find ways to make it safe for people to express what they feel, where they disagree, and how they see our progress towards our goal. Be the example when it comes to honesty and openness.
- Serve your people, not your strategic ideas. Those leading with their head and heart know it's not about themselves or their ideas; it's about their people. They also know the only route to success is through their people. Serving your people is about enabling their success.
- Create a shared mission. The greatest strategy in the world is meaningless if you don't empower your people to share that mission. The best leaders have the emotional know-how to successfully engage their people in the big picture - ensuring everyone feels a connection to the same mission for the long term and the difference they are making.
- Be curious about what others think and feel. Great leaders solicit feedback, as it's the only way to confirm people receive messages as intended. They know emotions and behaviors are intimately connected, and ensuring a robust feedback loop - where they actively ask for the opinions and feelings of others - is part of their daily process.
- Be transparent about who you are. Bottom line: always, always show who you really are and what you care about. People will respond in earth-shattering ways.
How do you balance power and authenticity? How do you make sure you lead with both your head and heart? I'd love to know what works best for your organization!