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Emotional Leadership – Managing your Emotions

There was a time when the iconic leader was pictured to possess a fierce temper and sharp tongue. He often got away with it simply because other people saw this as somewhat identical to “artistic temperament”, wherein a leader drew his best ideas from.

The leader that everyone genuinely looks up to is a human being who experiences a bad day, without losing focus on staying optimistic, sincere, and realistic (Goleman, Boyatzis &McKee, 2007). This leader is fully aware of what is going on in his internal world, and can manage his reactions to it. He knows that what he chooses to do or react to shall have a very significant impact on the lives of the people he interacts with.

How can you become that kind of leader? Goleman, et al (2007) shares five questions that can guide you in managing your emotions:

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• Who do you want to be? – Take a step back and reflect on what kind of a leader you would like to be. Imagine your overall disposition, the quality of relationships you would have, and how you get the work done.

• Who are you now? – Gather feedback, either done face-to-face, or anonymously, from your boss, your direct reports, and peers. Reflect on your current leadership and emotional style and compare with the picture you have painted earlier.

• How do you get from here to there? – Come up with a plan on how to close the gaps between how you are as a leader now, and how you would like to be.

• How do you make the change stick? – Repeatedly practice new behaviors until they become natural to you. If you are used to talking loud and fast when you are angry, stop right in your tracks and begin speaking in a low tone, moderate pace. Do this conscientiously every time you are tempted to go back to your old habits. This is the hardest part in managing your emotions as a leader, but this ensures change for the best.

• Who can help you? – Identify and seek help from people who can help you stick you your plans. These people should be able to point out relapses, and guide you back to the new behaviour. They should also be able to tell you if the plan is working or not, as well as make suggestions on how you can manage your emotions better.

Being able to answer these five guiding questions will help you, as a leader, manage your own emotions better, and at the same time resonate emotions that promotes a healthy, pleasant working environment.


Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2004, January). Primal Leadership – The Hidden Driver of Great Performance. Best of HBR on Emotionally Intelligent Leadership, 2nd Edition 2010. Retrieved from:

George, J. (2000). Emotions and Leadership: The Role of Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved from:

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Active traveller with a love for Asian food and Japanese anime.