It is difficult to shut off your emotion when confronted with stress, but that is exactly what you are often asked to do at work. You can’t leave your feelings at home; however, managing your emotions and putting the needs of your employees first underscore the importance of leadership in management. Your example sets the tone for the entire organization, and any personal baggage you bring through the door can weigh everyone else down.

One of my clients lost a major customer whom he had tried desperately to keep. He said to me, “I’m not sure if I’m going to get past this. I’m worried about what losing this customer is going to do to my attitude and what my attitude will do to my company. How do I feel what I feel without it affecting my people or coloring whatever comes across my desk next?”

Leaders often face these types of situations; however, allowing the emotional baggage to affect the next meeting or the next conversation can result in the following situations:

Danger #1: Destroying Credibility

A leader’s credibility is crucial. It affects his or her ability to engage their teams in the important work of meeting goals and objectives. Once that credibility is lost, it is very difficult—although not impossible—to regain.

Danger #2: Damaging Employee Morale

How an individual reacts to adversity has a direct effect on morale. Teams need leaders who are steadfast and able to handle pressure. They need to believe that the leader is guiding them in the right direction and the work they are doing is not in vain. Again, the importance of leadership in management is critical. People want to believe in the organization they work for, and they need to know that they have a leader who does not get easily thrown off track or distracted from the mission.

Danger #3: Creating Confusion

If the leader diverts attention from strategic objectives and goals, dissension creeps in. Unhealthy politics, lack of engagement, interoffice cliques and other productivity-destroying forces begin to wear on the team’s efficacy. They will wonder if what they’re doing matters, if they’re doing what really needs to be done and why they should invest their time and energy when the leader is not perceived to be doing so.

Imagine that you are the captain of a ship. You leave port and there is nothing but blue water everywhere. Your crew needs someone who really knows where they’re going, a guide who knows that they’re going to land safely on the other side and someone who gives clear and appropriate directions. If a leader can’t do this, confusion begins to reign. People start second-guessing or trying to inject their own leadership. You quickly end up in a caustic situation. It’s mutiny!

As a leader, you are first and foremost the “ship’s captain.” You are responsible for guiding the purpose and direction of your organization, getting past the daily hiccups that interfere with productivity and corporate objectives and keeping the spirit of the organization alive and well. It is always important to remember that the expectations of leadership flow from every direction. If you ever doubted the importance of leadership in management, the next time you might want to express your frustration, fears and concerns, take a time out and think about the consequences your words may have on morale.  From above (the board), from the side (your peers) and from below (your workforce), your mission is to keep them all headed in the same direction. Seeing the “glass as half full” is a positive way of overcoming adversity.

Mutiny is no more productive in the office than it is on the high seas. A business coach can help you maintain focus and compartmentalize emotional distractions, so that it doesn’t interfere with your week, month or career. Being aware of how much your attitude impacts your organization is a big first step.

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