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Leadership & Emotional Control

Leadership & Emotional ControlIf the above photo resembles a typical leadership meeting at your place of work then you may want to read this post. FACT: Leaders who lack emotional control won’t remain in a position of leadership for long. There has been no shortage of information published on the topic of Emotional IQ or what’s referred to as EQ in recent years. After all, being in touch with your emotions, as well as being in tune with the emotions of others is an important trait for any leader to possess. However I believe the more important emotional trait for CEOs and entrepreneurs to gain mastery over is what I call EC or emotional control. In today’s post I’ll discuss the value of gaining control over your emotions…

Business can be tough, and the outcomes of certain events or decisions often seem far from fair…Just when you’re sailing along with the perception that all is well, you can be hit out of left field with a situation or circumstance that can bring even the most sophisticated CEO to their knees. Even if you don’t find yourself having to frequently deal with extreme situations, it is often nothing more than normal dealings in the ordinary course of business that can place you at a nexus…Do you make your decision based upon the facts at hand and sound decisioning metrics, or do you let your emotions drive your decisions?

Over the years I have observed countless examples of people who jeopardize their future to satisfy an emotional need, when what they should have done was protect their future by exhibiting control over their emotions. I have witnessed otherwise savvy executives place the need for emotional security and superiority ahead of achieving their mission (not that they always understood this at the time). Case in point…have you ever witnessed an employee throw a fit of rage and resign their position in the heat of the moment? If you have, what you really watched was a person indulging their emotions rather than protecting their future.

The message here while a basic one, is nonetheless mission critical for leaders…Keep your wits about you and never let them see you sweat. Emotional outbursts, rants, and rages will rarely do anything but cause you to make poor decisions and to lose credibility. There’s an old saying that goes: “When you lose your temper, you lose.” I believe that with a loss of your temper you can lose your credibility, your influence, and your ultimately your ability to lead. It shouldn’t go without note that perhaps more important than “what” you lose, is “who” you can lose when you don’t maintian emotional control. Regardless of what might be tugging at your emotional strings, leaders need to remain calm while assessing the situation at hand. Make decisions based upon the big picture, and never based upon heat of the moment emotions.

I have only raised my voice in the workplace twice during my career, and both times I have regretted it tremendously. The reality is, whether you’re right or wrong isn’t at issue when you lose emotional control – people won’t remember anything other than the fact you blew your top. Great CEOs lead by example…they set the tone for others in the organization by demonstrating proactive, rational, logical and balanced thinking as opposed reactionary emotional thinking. Resist the temptation to give way to emotional decisioning and you’ll see your career and company soar to new heights of success.

I welcome your thoughts, experiences & observations, and encourage you to leave a comment below…


Image credit: Telegraph

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    November 19, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Emotional Control is not easy & it needs tremendous patience minus egos.



      November 19, 2010 at 7:23 am

      Hi Sai:

      While few things of importance come easily, their importance merits the effort and the resultant outcome normally justifies the investment. Of course subordinating one's ego to more productive traits never hurts.:)

      Thanks Sai…


        Sai Bharadwaj

        November 19, 2010 at 7:18 am

        Good to know you & this blog. That took me sometime to understand properly… it was such a good reply from an experienced person. 🙂

    […] by thecoachingconnection on July 15, 2010 This was reprinted below in its entirely by Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth, who originally […]


    anna smith

    November 19, 2010 at 7:30 am

    "Over the years I have observed countless examples of people who jeopardize their future to satisfy an emotional need, when what they should have done was protect their future by exhibiting control over their emotions." – couldn't agree more. That's why my mantra became "What Do You Want From Them". It reminds me that I want the truck driver to deliver my supplies – it's not his fault that the tomato prices went up; it reminds me that I want my better employee continue doing a great job – it's not their fault that a piece of equipment broke or I forgot to pick up change from the bank…



      November 19, 2010 at 7:38 am

      A great motto Anna, and sound perspectives as well. Thanks for commenting.


    Daniel Johnson

    November 19, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I agree! I would also add that it works at home as well.



    November 19, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Hi Mike,
    Great post. Controlling one's emotions is part and parcel of emotional intelligence. And, emotional intelligence has been linked to successful leadership (just did a paper on this for a university class).

    In fact, emotional intelligence is viewed by some as a better predictor of success than the old hallmark, IQ. The good news? Emotional intelligence can be learned…

    It's tough to keep your cool all of the time – I try only to raise my voice for matters of safety. If no one's gonna get hurt, it isn't worth surrendering your leadership credibility over it.

    Thanks for provoking thought!
    Landon Creasy http://landoncreasy.wordpress.com/



      November 19, 2010 at 7:42 am

      Thanks Landon…Love the last sentence of the third paragraph of your comment – spot-on.

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    Taariq Lewis

    November 19, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Hi Mike:
    As always, a great blog. I will be curating again, soon. However, as per my tweet, I think emotions run well beyond anger in business. Is your article title really about anger management or appropriate emotional expression in business?

    Anger and frustration are mis-alignment problems in person-to-person communication and human interaction. The fixes for this are very simple: Easier alignment of interests and needs and greater awareness of emotional triggers. With more accurate and clear communication of interests and needs, I think outbursts really would fall into the realm of disorder or dysfunction.

    Thus, I think the question we're not asking is: How do we align interests and needs in the organization, as leaders? A blog post?




      November 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm

      While I agree with all your assertions, there is in fact quite a lot of overlap between emotions, conflict management, anger management, interpersonal communications, etc. Clearly, anger can cross the line and move into disorder and dysfunction, but as you suggest in most cases it's an alignment problem. Following are a few links to other posts that deal with these topics in greater detail. Thanks for sharing Taariq:


        Taariq Lewis

        November 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm

        Mike, as always, a great follow-up with great insight and additional resources. Thank you and keep on writing!



    November 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks Mike,

    Is there a paradox in losing control ? maybe sincerity



      November 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      Perhaps in some cases, but not in every instance…This is a very fluid topic that is heavily influenced by individual personalities, environmental context, and situational nuances.


    George Phillip

    November 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Emotional control and Leadership?
    It is hard to be a leader if you are so emotional. People will see you weak if you are emotional. Many weakness could be see from you. And it's hard to lose your self from your emotions, because your self and emotions are one. It depends on the person of how He manage his self and His emotions.
    Twitter Marketing



      November 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      Hi George:

      Agreed with one caveat, which is the ability to separate yourself from emotions. I was actually having this conversation last night with a man that I hold in high regard. He is extremely mature emotionally and described his ability to separate from the emotions of a situation. This in turn allows him to accurately assess the situation and then validate or invalidate his emotions based on a rational evaluation as opposed to an emotional one. Most people have this ability if they consciously make the "choice" to step back, rather than allow the emotions of the moment to get the better of them. Thanks for sharing George…



    November 20, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Hello Mike
    I guess this an important outline of the marketplace behaviour and the most credible of it is how do you react when caught up in such a situation. i believe it all depends upon our personal instincts and who really we are. Emotional mastery is crucial as a leader because it determines th respect that you will or likely to command from your followers. And we must work hard at it to ensure we are good at it no regardless of the situation we are in.




      November 20, 2010 at 10:52 am

      Agreed…it's often said, and I beiieve it to be true that nobody else can be responsible for a person's emotions other than them. While everyone has a breaking point, it is the ability to recognizie where the breaking point is, and disengage or change the conditions of the engagement prior to reaching that point that makes a difference. Smart leaders simply don't allow their buttons to be pushed…Thanks for sharing Orabile.



    November 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    So true Mike. Great post as always. I always say, it's more difficult to react right than to act right. This is a strong challenge for all of us. Like you, I have not failed here often, but only due to much constraint and assistance from God's Spirit. Many times some followers look for reasons to judge or excuse their lack of honor. When leaders fail in emotional temperance this only enforces those who are looking for loop holes in respecting leaders. Thanks again for great insight from you!



      November 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Tom:

      Thanks for the reminder that emotional lapses simply add to the column-fodder and gossip. I always appreciate your insights Tom. Have a great weekend.



    November 20, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Hi, Mike- Great Post. As a first timer to your blog, I’m greatly enthu’ed reading the post. You brought out on of the most important quality of great leaders. They have control over emotions. Their causes and sense of humility drive the emotions instead of distractions. I think a great leader first has to win over his/her emotions (anger, fear, lust, greed, prejudice) before becoming a role model. That’s what separates I think from ordinary and extraordinary leaders.



      November 20, 2010 at 3:23 pm

      Welcome aboard and I hope you stop by again. Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your insights. Best wishes for continued success Kalyan.

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