All ancient cultures acknowledged and honored the critical balance of head and heart in making decisions and in understanding human behavior. Modern western culture has been and continues to be way out of balance with the natural order of life and with the realities of human experience. Even hard science now tells us that the heart is also a thinking organ. To ignore this fact isn’t just short-sighted, it is also bad for business.
Emotions play a huge role in the way we interact with other people and how we perform our tasks. To pretend they do not is fool’s play. The stock market is a huge, daily emotional barometer that pretends to be driven by performance and balance sheets, but it is also about how people “feel” about business. Often that counts far more in the buying and selling behaviors of stocks and shares. After all, value is in the eye of the beholder and nearly every beholder has emotions. There may be some who don’t, but those people have brain anomalies that are, well, anomalies.
Has there ever been a decent novel that didn’t examine the interplay and conflicts inherent in human emotions? Books, like life, are simply not interesting without them. Music stirs our human emotions of joy, sadness, triumph and tragedy. Music moves people and when people are moved, things happen.
Stating facts, listing details and computing calculations mean nothing without a knowledge of the feelings behind them and the impact that they may or may not have on people.
Without the power of emotions, there is no energy and no action. For example, passion is an emotion. And we know that nothing truly exciting in this world happens without a good dose of passion behind it. Without passion, we get little action; we stagnate and atrophy rather than change. Without change, there really is no life behind us or in front of us. We’re frozen in time.
Imagine a workplace without laughter, without caring, without inspiration. Imagine a workplace where people shared nothing with other than dry information and facts. Imagine a life with no color, no sound, no touch, no taste, and no smell. We would not be able to feel the emotions that come with eye popping beauty, being inspired or frightened, knowing love or anger, savoring a mouthwatering delicacy, or remembering a scent that brings tears to our eyes.
That is a world without emotion. We can’t live like that at home and we can’t live like that at work. We all know this. Slowly, slowly, even the tough nuts are cracking and realizing how ridiculous it is and even how bad for business it is to pretend we can keep emotions out of the workplace.
We want the good emotions at work, as long as they are kept “in check” and “appropriate” but we find the inconvenient emotions, well, inconvenient. That’s not how it works. The way it actually works is that our personal values (and we all have them) drive our emotions and emotions drive our responses and our behaviors.
What we need to do is not ignore them, not numb them, not fear them… We need to acknowledge, honor, and learn how to manage our own and help others manage theirs. This is why emotional intelligence competencies ARE the differentiator between intelligent highly effective people and intelligent ineffective people - especially leaders.
Leaders can inspire their people to do amazing things. For instance, we know for sure that fully engaged and highly motivated employees have a lot of fun at work. They are not just happy go lucky employees; it turns out that highly engaged employees contribute a whole lot of discretionary effort. This is work they aren’t paid for. This is work they simply give to their employer because they want to, not because they have to. Every discretionary minute they invest and every drop of discretionary energy they contribute flows directly to the bottom line of the enterprise.
Smart leaders have caught on to the “win-win-win” (employee / leader / bottom line) equation of creating a work culture where emotions are valued and understood to be an important, even the ‘inconvenient’ ones. They know that emotions are a critical part of the success of the enterprise. When employees’ emotions are honored, these leaders KNOW the result will be that their people will be far more engaged and far more productive. And there is no down side to that equation. Now, that’s something we can all feel good about!