The emotional work you do as a leader may go unrecognized and underestimated, but it’s more important than ever in today’s world of work. It’s an act of kindness that allows you to care and have a positive impact on others, even if you don’t feel it yourself. However, it should not be done at your personal expense. In this article, I’ll share his four techniques to try when your feelings and emotional expectations don’t match. This will help you stay fit and perform well over time.
There are unwritten rules about the emotions that are expected at work. These unspoken “rules of feeling” are so embedded in the social fabric of the organization that they are largely unnoticed. So how do you decide when to express your true feelings and be “real” and when to put on a game face and show the expected emotions?
Given their visibility and the requirements of their role, leaders often encounter this dilemma. A senior legal leader, John was strongly opposed to the way the General Counsel worked, but was still expected to bring the team together. Or Dara, who, as part of her reorganization, was expected to willingly transition her own organization (the one she built and didn’t want to let go) to another leader. To address these emotional demands, leaders often take “face actions” and make faces that disguise their true feelings. And this emotional labor is greater than ever.
Leaders risk losing their credibility and effectiveness when they disclose everything they think and feel. This is a reality that is especially true for women and people of color. But keeping emotions in check also comes at a cost. Superficial behavioral stress predisposes leaders to body aches, insomnia, burnout, and depression. The effort also lowers self-control, making leaders more likely to lash out in the workplace. This impacts your organization’s engagement levels, sales, and financial performance.
So what are the countermeasures? How can leaders walk this tightrope of authenticity? Here are some techniques to look at.
1. Reassess the situation.
When your emotions and emotional expectations don’t match, “deep acting” offers a healthier and more effective alternative to superficial acting. You don’t have to fake them because you can focus on finding good reasons to feel.
For example, Dara knew she had to be open-minded and supportive when transitioning her organization to another leader. Nevertheless, she felt worthless and upset. To manage this disharmony, Dara focused on the advantage of the situation: the chance for her to do something new. In reassessing her situation, Dara changed her own emotional state so that she could more faithfully express her expected emotions.
Empathy also helps with reframing and deep acting. Imagine your team racing to complete an important deliverable when a team member requests her week off to deal with a family emergency. Your immediate feelings may be disbelief and panic— How can all this be accomplished? But by looking at the situation through the eyes of your team members, you are more likely to feel genuine concern and show compassion.
Deep acting requires cognitive effort, and it takes time to step back and re-evaluate, so it’s not always possible. , report feeling less fatigued, less distrustful, more trusting of their peers, and progressing toward career goals.
2. Focus on what matters.
Another deep acting technique is to focus on the larger purpose of your work. Focusing on the people who will benefit from your work can energize you and reduce your chances of burnout.
For example, John finds that his expressions of contempt and chagrin are having a negative effect on the team. By thinking about the needs of the team instead of prioritizing his own values regarding transparency, Jon was content to show up to his team the way they needed it rather than feeling like an impostor. I came to
To refocus, take a step back and think about why your work matters. What impact will it have on team members, customers, or the wider community? Relieving the burden of expressing certain emotions and negative emotions by producing positive outcomes for those you care about. I can.
3. Do an emotional audit.
Situations that allow us to experience inner dissonance are opportunities for personal learning and growth. Do an emotional audit and ask yourself: where in your body do you feel it? What is it that makes me feel that way? What do my responses say about my beliefs and values?
From an early age, many of us receive the message that certain emotions are bad. If we are sad, we are told to ‘lift the man up’ or ‘big girls don’t cry’. If angry, they are told to calm down. But emotions are natural and essential. Emotions provide feedback on how we experience the world, help us make good decisions, build positive relationships, and foster happiness.
Consider whether your discomfort stems from your beliefs about the validity of certain emotions. It may help free you from restricting your scripts.
This process builds emotional intelligence and strengthens your ability to perform emotional labor and leadership over time. Many leaders I coach are disconnected from their emotions and bodies and are unaware of how their inner landscape influences their actions. Self-awareness and adept emotional management are essential to effective leadership in a complex world.
If your dissonance with your role is consistent, consider ways to align your position more closely with your values. Constantly reevaluating negative feelings about your role and working conditions is not a good long-term solution. If your characteristics and motivations match the emotional demands of the job, less emotional labor is required.
4. Reconnect and refill over time.
Seek support to ease the burden of emotional labor. Connect with a partner, therapist, coach, or trusted peer who can express unedited thoughts and feelings. Engaging in relaxing and recharging activities such as meditation, journaling, art, and nature walks can also reduce hidden stress.
Embracing self-compassion is also important. Self-compassion increases your emotional intelligence, your ability to treat others more compassionately, and your overall effectiveness as a leader. Leaders are rarely trained on how to identify and deal with emotions.
The emotional work you do as a leader may go unrecognized and underestimated, but it’s more important than ever in today’s world of work. It’s an act of kindness that allows you to care and have a positive impact on others, even if you don’t feel it yourself. However, it should not be done at your personal expense.Try the Techniques Above to Stay Healthy When Ensures high performance over the long term.