It’s Time to Get Emotional
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

If you are like me, you were taught that leaders control their emotions.  Especially while at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I remember seeing many calm and collected examples of leadership.  It was impressive.  I was only 18 years old and was walking the paths that Grant, Lee, MacArthur, Patton, and Eisenhower all walked on.  It was intimidating and humbling, to say the least.  Keeping it all together was the task at hand.  Controlling my emotions was critical.  So I learned – quickly.

Today, I am unlearning my attachment to controlling my emotions.  I need to be more emotional – and allow others to do so as well. I have learned that it’s through our emotions that we discover our passions at work and in life.  After all, we are only human and having the ability to both show true emotions and to receive other’s emotions is a critical leadership skill.  People respond to emotion much more than they do to the facts.  Sure, we need to express our emotions in an appropriate way – but do share them.  Let others share their everyday emotions.  We want our leaders available and real.  It’s time for leaders to be more emotional if they want to be effective and tap into the passion naturally present in us all.

Every year we honor Wall of Fame award recipients at MACNY.  Each year I am humbled and moved by the stories they tell.  They are stories of people and being there for their teams, families, and communities. They share genuine emotion.  It moves everyone in the room.  It changes communities.  It’s these stories that get told about these individuals long after they leave a company.  Sure, they work hard and use reason and logic to succeed, but they also use their emotions and relate to the emotions of their teams.  It is why they truly stand out.  Trust me – I have seen dozens of these leaders.  I watch those around them.  They inspire their teams, me, and hopefully you.

As a leader, we need to share our emotions with our family, friends, and colleagues at work.  We need to smile and tell stories and be available.  I have to remind myself that these emotions are what give life its vitality and its meaning.  Great leaders are emotional.

Do you share your emotions with those around you?  Do you allow and even encourage others to share their emotions?  Does your organization make space for what is going on in the lives of those on your team?  What can you do today to make it a little easier for people to share their emotions?  Remember, our passion comes from our emotions.  We need to harness this energy.


Looking for more? Download my Amazon Bestseller, Present-Future Leader:  How to Thrive in Today’s Economy.