Is there a place for emoting within business or should we leave our emotions behind when we start our journey to work on a Monday morning? Are we better managers, leaders and workers within the work environment if we adopt the stiff-upper-lip attitude and restrict emotion to our personal and family life? Are emotions a valid part of business life or not?
Anger was not the first emotion I thought of when starting to write this, but I suppose anger (in its more righteous form) would count as an emotion and, if so, I would be surprised if any of us have not expressed this on occasions. We had one on Friday last week. A supplier completely undermined our wholesale business model by directly approaching one of our large customers and offering them the same prices that we pay. Hardly surprising that a number within my team were incandescent with rage! To their merit, the supplier in question only saw a degree of this, the proper conversations will come later in a more controlled environment. But, they need to see some emotions as they need to know just how under-mined we felt, and some expression of emotions will, hopefully, lead to a continued business relationship.
Personally, I am from a family that did not freely express its emotions, so I used to come across as un-feeling and not able to connect with people. Maybe some still feel I do, but I know I am a far more emotional person now. Having hardly cried at all between the ages of 10 and 30, the tears now flow freely, and occasionally in team meetings and talks to others in business. I am no longer embarrassed by this as I think it is a good thing for people to know that you care about what you are talking about. And in the context of being a business that purports to be changing the world for better, real change is only going to happen if we care about our people and the world we live in. Feelings often come before action. Recently I put on the screen at a talk to business people a photograph of Bangladeshis who had lost their homes due to flooding. It was difficult to carry on the talk as I was feeling the pain of these people and how western businesses through their damaging emissions had contributed towards these people’s trauma. Many others in the room also felt the pain too.
Clearly, we should not it all hang out and boo our eyes out when things are not going well within the business. These are probably times to be a safety net around those that work for you and stop them worrying even if there is cause to worry, but, in my view, most people would far rather work for a boss who they feel cares for them and others, rather than a rather distant robot-type figure! Laughter is also an emotion and it would be a sad work-place that was not full of fun. Maybe more on that next time!
En-joy your week!