Manage Emotions First
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Good leaders need to have good ideas.  They also need to be able to execute on them.  This is where managing emotions becomes absolutely paramount.

Have you ever had the right idea that you know can work – but it just isn’t accepted by your team?  I know I have!  What went wrong?  More often than not, I did not pay attention to the emotions of the team.  The right answer that stays unexecuted is just a dream.  Connect with your team at an emotional level and your chances of success go up exponentially.

We have all been there before.  Before us is an important decision.  We can see how it can be successful.  However, some individuals are having a tough time moving forward.  At that moment, we need to step back and ask ourselves how others are feeling.  Are they excited about it or fearful?  What will lower their levels of anxiety and fear?  What will it take to move forward?

Let me give you an example.  When I was in the Army, we were on an important military exercise.  Critical work needed to get done – but it wasn’t. What was the problem?  The individual was concerned – and uncertain – what to do.  At first, I was upset.  I calmed down and tried to understand the real barriers.  Just the act of recognizing the persons feelings changed the entire conversation.  We were able to move forward and implement the action.  None of this would have been possible without first managing emotions – mine and theirs.

When we ask these questions, we can begin to address the real barriers – which often are personal and held closely by others. Sometimes we assume – incorrectly – that they don’t think the idea is a good one.  They may just need to know we understand them and will help them through the tough times ahead.

When we manage emotions and not just ideas, we show our human side.  When leaders admit they need our help, we often help them.  When people listen, we can now move forward and stop resisting.

As a leader, we need to be able to listen for emotions as well as for good ideas.  When we listen for emotions – and place real effort on understanding them – we shift the change from something we want, to something they can get behind.

We have all worked with individuals who are tough to work with.  We can be stymied in these situations.  But, we don’t need to be.  If we step back, we can find what the emotions are behind the resistance.  We can gain an understanding of it.  We can seek solutions that overcome the objections. However, this is usually only possible when we manage emotions – ours and theirs!  When we don’t, our good ideas get to stay ideas – instead of becoming reality.

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