This article looks at the impact of emotions on performance and how great leaders draw others onto their own positive force field.

Our emotions and moods can impact not only on our own performances but on the work of those around us. There is well documented research that shows the ripple effect of our emotions – the natural force that we create around our thinking, feeling, and behaviours – on workplace behaviour. Consider this:

A team is waiting in the office for their Monday morning staff meeting to begin. Lattès in hand, and, they are animatedly recounting the events of the weekend. The office door opens and everyone goes quiet as Steven, their boss, enters the room. Steven mutters an unenthusiastic good morning and takes the power position at the head of the table. For the rest of the briefing, the team avoids meeting his gaze. The meeting drags on with little engagement with the team. Afterwards, Steven complains to his boss that his team shows no enthusiasm for their work.

Humans will synchronize their personal emotions with the emotions expressed by those around them, whether consciously or unconsciously, and thus an emotion conveyed by one person will become “contagious” to others. If you’re in a leadership position, your affect is has even more impact because people around are watching you, and will pick up any vibes that leak out of you even if the emotions aren’t explicitly displayed or you are aware of them.

This is possible thanks to what scientists call the open loop nature of the brain’s limbic system (our emotional centre) that relies on external sources in our environment to manage itself. A closed loop system, such as our cardiovascular system can self-regulate. But how we regulate our emotional estate depends greatly on our interactions with other people or simply their presence.

Leaders that bring out the best in their teams use emotions to inspire and energise others by engaging in a special type of relationship with their colleagues – they are emotionally in tune with their teams, and their teams emotionally in tune with them. This isn’t a love in, but a safe environment for listening, growing and taking risks. These effective leaders establish what we call a resonant relationship with their employees, connecting with them both emotionally and cognitively

Great leader are emotionally in tune with their teams. Click To Tweet

Resonant leaders can influence the emotional states of colleagues. They can draw others onto their own positive force field.

How do you become a resonant leader?

Emotional intelligence guru, Daniel Goleman recommends leaders that want to become more resonant need to first know themselves and their ability to manage and use their own emotions to connect with others.

He recommends to seek feedback from colleagues at all levels of the company to help identify your own strengths and weakness as a leader.

Once you are aware of the areas you need to improve or develop, you can practice and build the necessary skills so that the positive force of resonant leadership will be with you and ripple to others on your team.

Back to our example of Steve, he could have changed the emotional tone of his meeting by using a different leadership style.  The four styles that Dan Goleman recommends to move towards resonant leadership are:

Steven could have opened his meeting, with his view of why they have these meetings every week, where they are headed in the future and how important the team’s contribution to this success could make a difference to their customers. Visionary leaders relate the purpose and direction of their business and use emotions to describe the satisfaction and achievement of stretching to achieve the bold vision. They think about where they are headed in broad terms, share their vision, and inspire others to collaborate to reach their goals. These leaders convey a sense of where the group is going. They draw them into the vision. This establishes collaborative relationships that boost performance and productivity in the long run.

If Steven was disgruntled by an unusual poor performance of one of his team members, he could have taken him aside and ask him what is getting in the way of his performance and provide him some coaching. When using this style, leaders demonstrate interest in those around them, developing trust and rapport with individual employees and motivating them. This style links people’s desires to the organiorganisationtion’s goals.

If Steven’s mood was low because of a personal problem or a conflict in the team, he could take a few minutes to do a ‘check in’ with the team. Each team member would talk about how they were feeling at the moment. Usually there is one enthusiastic member in the team who lifts the whole mood. When leaders use The affiliative style of leadership they are focused on building relationships and collaboration. Affiliative leaders raise morale by showing that they value employees and their feelings. This style builds harmony by connecting individuals.

Steven could also be just tired of making all of the decisions for the team and they don’t seem to appreciate his thinking. If the team is experienced, the Participative style is effective as a leader who uses it draws on the knowledge of the entire group. It encourages employees to provide input and collaborate on decision-making. This style inspires loyalty, creates consensus, and builds resonance by placing a value on people’s input.

These four styles can create the emotional force that engages individuals and create the contagious energy teams need to meet the demands of their work and feel engaged and happy while doing it.


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