If you know any of my work, you know I talk about how to create emotional intimacy in the workplace, as it’s the secret ingredient to the secret sauce of having an extraordinary workplace culture.
However, emotional intimacy does not mean:
Emotions are part of the human experience and should be incorporated into bringing our whole selves to work. Emotions are critical information – if we’re unsure, afraid, confused – good to know. If we’re intrigued, excited, and hopeful – also good to know.
What doesn’t work are regular overt expressions of the extremes. Sure, there will be times when it’s absolutely appropriate to cry, like when a co-worker passes. There will be times when it’s appropriate to yell, for example when everyone needs to get out of the building.
However as the leader, overall, you need to be emotionally steadfast. You should express emotions. That’s part of sharing your humanity with your team. Share concerns, disappointments, regrets, and insecurities but do so in a way that is steady and clear-eyed. You are the rock.
The energy behind emotions is contagious. Expressing calmly your experience of an emotion lets your team know you’re aware but not reactive. You’re still in control, still ready to lead the team through whatever challenge is at hand.
You must remain grounded. And I get it – you’re human and sometimes you need to “lose it” – take that messy blustery loud rage or that sobbing despair outside the building. Go talk to someone outside of your organization as soon as possible to release, dissipate and calm that emotional energy. Don’t let it splatter all over your team.