In The Mood for Leadership?

A Leader’s Mood
The Dimmer Switch of Performance
By Bruna Martinuzzi

In response to a discussion on the effect of a leader’s mood on the performance of a team, a participant in a recent leadership workshop made this heartfelt and realistic remark: “I cannot see how I am expected to be in a good mood for four quarters in a row.”

The point is well taken. But can you afford, as a leader, to even entertain this thought? All of the research on employee performance points to the contrary. There is a concept in French which is called “Noblesse oblige”. It means, roughly, that wealth, power and prestige go hand-in-hand with certain social responsibilities – in other words, with privilege comes duty. It is a privilege when we have the opportunity to lead a team of people, but with it comes many responsibilities, chief of which, some leadership pundits would contend, is managing moods.

In a Harvard Business Review article called Leadership That Gets Results, Daniel Goleman cites research which shows that up to 30% of a company’s financial results (as measured by key business performance indicators such as revenue growth, return on sales, efficiency and profitability) are determined by the climate of the organization.

So what is the major factor that drives the climate of an organization? It’s the leader: in Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Goleman states that roughly 50-70% of how employees perceive their organization’s climate is attributable to the actions and behaviors of their leader. A leader creates the environment that determines people’s moods at the office and their mood, in turn, affects their productivity and level of engagement.

Afterglow or Aftermath?

Witness the number of times you may have driven home with an internal glow, reliving a positive encounter with an upbeat and supportive boss, perhaps savoring a “bon mot” about your performance that he or she left with you on a Friday afternoon. How great it made you feel, and how eager you were to get out of bed on the following Monday morning, and get back to the office to give that man or woman the very best that you had to offer. That’s the “afterglow” that lingers and gives you renewed energy to be more productive, to bring your finest talents to work.

And think about the reverse of the afterglow – the aftermath, or bitter aftertaste. This is what Susan Scott, in Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time, brilliantly calls “The Emotional Wake.” That’s what lingers with you after being the recipient of some acrid remarks from a leader in a negative mood. How did that affect your determination to overcome difficulties in a project, to keep your heart fully engaged in the process, to want to continue to give that person your very best game?

Contagion and Consequences

Leadership literature is full of studies attesting to the consequences of a leader’s mood. One such study involved 62 CEOs and their top management teams and it showed that the more upbeat, energetic and enthusiastic the executive team was, the more co-operatively they worked together, and the better the company’s business results. The study also showed that the longer a company was managed by an executive team that didn’t get along well, the poorer the company’s market returns.

Perhaps nowhere is a leader’s mood more crucial than in the service industry where employees in a bad mood can, without fail, adversely affect business. In one of a multitude of such studies involving 53 sales managers in retail outlets who led groups ranging in size from four to nine members, it was found that when managers themselves were in an upbeat, positive mood, their moods spilled over to their staff, positively affecting the staff’s performance and increasing sales. We can all take an inspiration from organizations such as Starbucks who place great value on the importance of creating a positive climate for employees which, in turn, ensures a pleasant customer experience and repeat visits. “We are always focused on our people” is an explicit statement to new recruits on the company’s career site.

When we move the curtain a bit, we can see clearly that a leader’s bad mood is a source of infection – an emotional contagion that eventually spreads across people to entire units. We can learn a thing or two from leadership in the military. Imagine the effect on troop morale and energy that an “overwhelmed”, “anxious”, “worried” or “irate” leader would have? And how about a leader who is plagued by uncertainty? “Indecision,” as HA Hopf puts it, “is contagious. It transmits itself to others.” It can become debilitating and habit-forming in an organization, as people take their cues from the leader’s state of mind.

Inconsistent Means Unpredictable

We could argue that the occasional bad mood, the occasional rant, on a bad “corporate hair day”, is excusable. Often, we refer to this type of behavior with statements such as: “She can’t control her temper sometimes, but she is so brilliant”. Or, “He has an amazing mind but he has a tendency to shout at people when it’s stressful.” It is as though brilliance is an excuse for bad behavior. And it may very well have to be in some environments – but the message it sends to constituents is one of inconsistency, which is an undesirable trait in any leader. We want our leaders to be predictable because there is comfort and safety in predictability. Predictability engenders trust and an unpredictable leader elicits anxiety and, in some cases, even fear, both of which negatively affect performance and productivity.

Of course, no leader steps out of the elevator in the morning with an intention to spread a bad mood around but, as sure as there is gravity, events occur during the course of some days that can derail even the best among us. To be clear, we are not advocating that leaders turn into a shrink wrapped version, complete with false smiles and fake cheerfulness. Constituents spot a non-genuine smile anyway and are very adept at noticing when a leader infantilizes them.

The Right Mood?

There are, of course, no easy solutions to managing emotions on an hourly basis in the often difficult circumstances in which leaders must operate and make decisions. However, we can draw some advice from another Harvard Business Review article entitled Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance. First of all, it’s important to note that a leader’s mood has the greatest impact on performance when it is upbeat. But it must also be in tune with those around him.

Goleman et al call this dynamic resonance. “Good moods galvanize good performance, but it doesn’t make sense for a leader to be as chipper as a blue jay at dawn if sales are tanking or the business is going under. The most effective executives display moods and behaviors that match the situation at hand, with a healthy dose of optimism mixed in. They respect how other people are feeling – even if it is glum or defeated – but they also model what it looks like to move forward with hope and humor.” The operative threesome here is “optimism”, “hope” and “humor”. As someone once put it, leaders are dealers in hope.

Steps Towards Better Performance

So what are the specific recommendations? Your mood and behavior affects performance. How do you work on attaining the consistent, emotionally intelligent leadership behaviors that breed success in yourself and others? Here are a few other suggestions to consider that can improve your and your team’s performance:

  1. Model Meeting Behavior
    Take a hard look at your behavior in meetings, which are often “cauldrons of emotion.” Do you model the way by setting a positive tone right from the start? Or do you impose your own “pace” based on how you feel at the moment? Aim for a calm, relaxed mood, and a consistent, positive approach.
  2. Look For Good In Others
    Long before leadership books were in vogue, Andre Malraux, French novelist and statesman, reminded us that one of the central objectives of a leader is to make others aware of the greatness that lies in them. Be known in your organization as someone who is always on the lookout for what is right with people. It engenders good will and is good for business.
  3. Read The Climate
    Do you have a good reading of the climate of your unit or organization? Can you accurately sense what the emotional atmosphere is? Is it upbeat? Is it energized? Is it down or dejected? Do people seem slightly apprehensive and somewhat cautious in your presence? Can you ask a trusted acolyte if the atmosphere changes when you are away?
  4. Be Pleasant and Cooperative
    If you are an emergent leader, and working on having a pleasant personality is not a priority for you, consider putting some effort into cultivating this prized quality. It is almost impossible to have executive presence without it. Be cooperative, for example sharing ideas and shortcuts. This is another example of how mood affects productivity.
  5. Be Emotionally Attractive
    Along that vein, focus on being emotionally attractive. This links to the concept of resonant leadership. Resonant leaders are individuals who have the ability to manage their own emotions and those of others in a manner that drives the success of their teams and organizations. In Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee explain that resonant leaders create a positive emotional tone in the organization and engage and inspire people. As the title of their book indicates, these leaders possess three core qualities which are: mindfulness, hope, and compassion. Consider making these a part of your arsenal as a leader.
  6. Manage the Emotions of Change
    Be particularly mindful of how you manage emotions if your organization is undergoing change: how you handle emotions during these crucial times can help or hinder the change process. It’s a known fact that if the resistance to change is emotional, it is the hardest form of resistance to overcome. As the leader handling a change initiative, don’t avoid the emotions that accompany the change process. Set the mood and manage the emotions – or they will manage you.

If you cringe at the whole notion of emotions in the workplace, talk of empathy and compassion, intuition or discussions of emotional intelligence, I encourage you to reconsider this mindset. Hone your intuitive ability, and listen to those hunches that hint to you that something in your behavior and actions on bad days is causing a ripple effect on others. These are the whispers we try to dismiss when we elect to focus only on “rationality”. Intuition is a precious tool worth including in our kit. Einstein put it best: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

As the leader, you have in your hand the switch that can control the intensity of engagement of the people who do the work in your organization. It’s like being a director in a movie: “The first work of the director is to set a mood so that the actor’s work can take place” (William Friedkin, American movie and television director/producer.) A leader’s upbeat mood metaphorically oxygenates the blood of followers – it’s a transfusion into the corporate arteries. It may be one of the most potent contributions you can make as a leader.

  1. Epic site I’m very glad I wandered onto it through google, i’m gonna definitely have to add another one to the blogroll.

  2. Nicola Sabbadini says:

    Interesting article and one which is minus the usual ‘bally-hoo’ that accompanies leadership psychology. It seems to me though, that your discussion uses the concept of mood in the same sense that others might talk about attitudes and values. Is this because you want to stress that our attitudes and values towards the happenngs of daily life cause an emotional resposne in others as well as an intellecutal one? I would also like to emphasise the dangers of being fake; I believe there is no substitute for genuineness, athenticity and sincerity in our workplace relations and the most damaging ‘mood’ that can be displayed by leaders is the determination to “manage” everything and everyone: the workplace climate, an individual’s psyche, group responses, alternative solutions etc. It’s a front for the need to control and is offensive to many employees.

  3. Another Excellent post, I will be sure to bookmark this in my Clipmarks account. Have a awesome evening.

  4. Excellent! Your post has quite a few readers. How did you get so many viewers to look at your blog I’m envious! I’m still getting to know all about posting articles on the net. I’m going to click on more articles on your website to get a better idea how to achieve success. Thank you!

  5. Great information shared..I am very glad i have read this article.

  6. Im impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I see a blog thats both educational and entertaining, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail about the head.

  7. I found your blog web site on google and examine a couple of of your early posts. Proceed to maintain up the superb operate. I just extra up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you in a while!…

  8. A formidable share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing just a little evaluation on this. And he in truth bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I really feel strongly about it and love reading extra on this topic. If possible, as you develop into experience, would you mind updating your weblog with extra particulars? It’s highly helpful for me. Huge thumb up for this weblog post!

  9. You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the problem and located most people will go together with with your website.

  10. Hello There. I found your weblog the use of msn. This is an extremely well written article. I¡¯ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your helpful information. Thanks for the post. I¡¯ll definitely comeback.

  11. interesting insights you are sharing. I love the way you are writing it. Is there any way I could find out for more?

  12. you have got an ideal weblog here! would you wish to make some invite posts on my weblog?

  13. Thanks for this wondeful post. i just wish many could read this for them to know.

  14. Hello. Truly loved checking out your post. It was especially educational and useful. I trust it’s ok with you if I do some blogging about this article on my own website. Will also be doing a linkback to this. Cool theme you’ve got! Thanks.

  15. wish I had found this blog before today. The advices in this posts are very helpful and I surely will read the other posts of this series too.Thank you for posting this. Your Blog is Bookmarked

  16. herbal says:

    Hello.This article was really fascinating, particularly because I was browsing for thoughts on this topic last week.

  17. Gracias for the wonderful writing! I seriously loved reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your site and definitely will come back from now on. I want to support one to continue your impressive posts, have a nice evening!

  18. Thank you for the helpful tips! I’d not have gotten this on my own!

  19. Johna Duling says:

    Keep functioning ,remarkable job!

  20. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

  21. Song Mullen says:

    Keep functioning ,fantastic job!

  22. Hi everyone well done to take time to blog, this is so important these days as everyone gets there information from the web

  23. I thought it was heading to be some boring old submit, but it seriously compensated for my time. I will post a website link to this web page on my weblog. I am sure my site visitors will find that extremely helpful.

  24. london hotel says:

    I don’t define an excessive amount of about this, i actually just wanted to get some ideas from your site, your post caught my attention.

  25. Interesting insights you are sharing. I love the way you are writing it. Is there any way I could sign up for more?Thanks for this wondeful post. i just wish many could read this for them to be inform.

  26. Do you care if I reference part of this on my site basically post a hyperlink to this website?

  27. I am impressed the way you write it. I think i will be coming back to read some of your post. -Cheers, Mike.

  28. I wish to express appreciation to this writer just for bailing me out of this type of challenge. After surfing through the world-wide-web and finding notions which are not helpful, I was thinking my life was over. Existing devoid of the strategies to the issues you’ve solved all through your entire guide is a critical case, and those that would have in a wrong way affected my career if I hadn’t noticed your site. The understanding and kindness in maneuvering the whole thing was valuable. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t encountered such a step like this. I can also at this moment look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time so much for this professional and effective help. I will not hesitate to propose your blog to anyone who needs counselling about this matter.

  29. Nigel Smith says:

    I attempted to submit a remark earlier, however it hasn’t shown up. In my opinion the spam filter might be broken

  30. Oh Yes says:

    Just curious, what wordpress theme are you using since it looks cool?

  31. More Here says:

    Hello. fantastic job. I did not picture this. This can be a remarkable story. Thanks!

  32. Great website. I hope you’ll post more about this! 🙂

  33. I think this is among the most vital information for me. And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The web site style is great, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

  34. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be actually one thing that I believe I’d by no means understand. It kind of feels too complex and extremely broad for me. I am having a look forward in your next submit, I will attempt to get the grasp of it!

  35. Hey all, I had been just checkin out this website and I really admire the inspiration of this article!

  36. This is it says:

    When I view your RSS feed it puts up a webpage of strange characters, is the issue on my end?

  37. sears card says:

    Appreciate making the effort to speak about this, I’m fervently about this and i also also appreciate studying this topic. Please, when you gain information, please update this web site with increased information. Ive thought it was very useful. There has to be charging stations everywhere.

  38. Google adwords management by Whitewolf Media

    Whitewolf Media has 7 years test in doing particularly what it says, google adwords management

    As multifarious people be acquainted with, tournament a Google Adwords drive can be costly in both age and Money. You could obtain your express days budget has been blown in one hour by paying mirthful amounts of money per click. Well thats where we be brought up in to take the saddle with away from you.

  39. I just couldnt leave your website before saying that we really get delighted on the amazing information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!

  40. You got fantastic nice ideas there. I developed a research on the topic and got most peoples will trust your blog.

  41. Helpful blog post and thank you for sharing. Some things in here I have never thought about before, I want to take this moment to say that I really love your blog. It has been a fantastic resource of knowledge for me. Thank you so much!

  42. I just added your website on my blogroll. Really enjoyed reading through. Excellent information!

  43. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and that i find It really useful & it reduced the problem out much. I hope to provide something back and aid others like you helped me.

  44. I’m impressed, I need to say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you have got hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the problem is something that not sufficient persons are talking intelligently about. I’m very pleased that I stumbled across this in my seek for one thing relating to this.

  45. rtyecript says:

    I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

  46. Hey, Thank you for this wonderful writings. It was very helpful to me and to the one who read this page. You truly is a genius writer!

  47. Helpful post and thanks for sharing. Several things in here I have never thought about before, I would like to take this moment to say that I really like your blog. It has been a fantastic resource of knowledge for me. Thank you so much!

  48. Really interesting blog, keep up the good work!

  49. Many thanks for finding the time to talk about this, I feel strongly regarding it and really like learning more on this topic. If possible, while you gain experience, would you mind updating your blog site with more information?

  50. I like the way you presented your post above. You are a blog master!

  51. Youre not the typical blog writer, man. You definitely have something powerful to increase the net. Your design is so strong you could almost get away with being a bad writer, but youre even awesome at expressing what you have to say. Keep up the great work man!

  52. Heya i am the very first time here. I found this board and i also believe it is really useful & it reduced the problem out much. I really hope to provide something back and aid others as if you reduced the problem.

  53. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly regarding it and enjoy learning more on this topic. Whenever possible, while you gain knowledge, would you mind updating your blog with additional information?

  54. Wier says:

    *You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

  55. Loved reading your post. I must admit it was the first article on your blog I really liked and where I had a feeling of agreement, know what I mean? Anyway, keep up the blogging and I’ll be back.

  56. This site rocks. I’m glad I have this site bookmark so I can check often.

  57. Because of reading your website, I made a decision to publish my very own. Id never been considering keeping a blog until I saw how fun yours was, i quickly was inspired!

  58. orthotics says:

    Many thanks a lot for providing individuals with an extremely breathtaking possiblity to read critical reviews out of this site. It really is very brilliant and as well , filled with fun personally personally and my office co-workers to search your internet site nearly thrice in a week to find out the most recent secrets you have. Needless to say, Im also usually motivated for the wonderful suggestions you serve. Selected 2 points on this page are in truth the very best weve had.

  59. Top Toys says:

    This can be a massive and a highly interesting email take a look at on this great blog.

  60. Simply wanted to state this website is very good. I always prefer to hear something totally new about this because I have the similar blog in my Country about this subject and this help´s us a lot. I did so looking around the issue and located a large amount of blogs but nothing beats this. Many thanks for sharing so much inside your blog..

  61. I prefer the helpful info you provide inside your articles. I will bookmark your site and check again here regularly. I will be quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff the following! Best of luck for the next!

  62. vegan diet says:

    I have seen something alike about this point of view. But it seems your’s is unique and best.

  63. Hey, Thank you for this wonderful article. It was very helpful to me and to the one who read this page. You truly is a genius writer!

  64. I am really happy to have found an interesting article while looking for some related literature for my school paper. Allow me to cite your site as a source, with proper acknowledgments. Hello from France! Well-researched articles like yours are truly great materials to us researchers.

  65. Robert Clark says:

    Thanks for your posting on the travel industry. I might also like to include that if your senior contemplating traveling, its absolutely important to buy travel insurance for golden-agers. When traveling, elderly people are at high risk being in need of a health-related emergency. Getting the right insurance policy package in your age group can look after your health and provide you with peace of mind.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s