Traditionally, the prevailing thought is that emotions have no place at work. 

While it is true that uncontrolled emotional outbursts are unprofessional, we are not robots who check our emotions at the company door.  The truth is emotions matter.  Whether we acknowledge them or not, they exist.  So, rather than ignore the inevitable, becoming emotionally intelligent and recognizing anger, fear, shame, and sadness can help leaders effectively deal with these feelings. 

 

Emotions are not chaotic events that suspend rational thinking.   Rather, they provide information about things that are important enough to motivate or de-motivate a person.  Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor your own (and others) feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to understand underlying motivations.  Emotions are windows to the inner core of people, and emotionally intelligent leaders can read the signals and use them to bring about positive outcomes. 

 

For example, a study conducted by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that when leaders share a positive emotional outlook, the company has four to six percent higher earnings than companies with divergent emotional perspectives. In addition, a research project at the University of Queensland concluded that teams with lower emotional intelligence are less productive than with those with higher emotional intelligence.  Not only does emotional intelligence affect performance, but it is contagious, for good or evil.  A leader who is happy and has a positive outlook inspires creativity, collaboration, and job satisfaction. 

 

When organizations support emotionally intelligent leaders, communication improves, trust, loyalty, and commitment increase, and conflict is less destructive.  Employees feel appreciated and empowered.  It is a win/win for everyone.