Matching Your Mood to the Task at Hand
There are, of course, no easy solutions to managing emotions on an hourly basis in the often difficult circumstances in which Leaders must operate and make decisions.
But can you afford, as a leader, to even entertain this thought? All of the research on employee performance points to the contrary. There is a concept in French which is called “Noblesse oblige“. It means, roughly, that wealth, power and prestige go hand-in-hand with certain social responsibilities – in other words, with privilege comes duty. It is a privilege when we have the opportunity to lead a team of people, but with it comes many responsibilities, chief of which, some leadership pundits would contend, is managing moods.
In a research study conducted at Harvard Business School, it was found that up to 30% of a company’s financial results as measured by key business performance indicators such as revenue growth, return on sales, efficiency and profitability are determined by the climate of the organization.
So what is the major factor that drives the climate of an organization? It’s the Leader.
More than two thirds of how employees perceive their organization’s climate is attributable to the actions and behaviors of their leader. A leader creates the environment that determines people’s moods at work and their mood, in turn, affects their productivity and level of engagement.
The brain is like an instrument we can tune for the job at hand – something like tuning a guitar to the right key for a song. Cognitive research shows that reading the fine print in a contract takes a very different state than, say, coming up with a clever name for your business.
Our emotions are the keyboard we play in tuning our brains. Here are some of the ways moods match to tasks at hand. By allowing the brain to generate a greater fluidity of thoughts, our positive moods make us better at coming up with novel ideas, solving problems, and making decisions.
On the downside, though, upbeat moods make us a bit more gullible, by weakening our ability to detect the weaknesses in an argument someone is making. We are more prone to making snap decisions we might regret later. And we are less careful in paying attention to the details of tasks.
The upside of being down, or at least more somber; we can more easily focus on those details we missed or ignored while we were upbeat – we pay more attention even to boring jobs. The take home is – get serious before you read that contract.
Some other benefits to sour moods – we are more skeptical, and so less likely to take someone’s word for it – even an expert’s. We ask more questions and come to our own independent conclusion.
Then there is anger. Aristotle said, “anyone can get angry – that’s easy. But to get angry in the right way, for the right reason, at the right time, and with the right person – that’s not so easy.“
So, you found an unfair charge on your credit card bill? Get angry – but in the right way. Anger – which can so readily get us to do or say something we regret later – has its virtues. If we can channel the anger, it raises our energy and focuses us on changing things for the better – persisting in complaining until we get that charge removed.
Some downsides of anger are obvious, like the toxicity it puts in the air for those around us. But some costs are more subtle – anger makes us pessimistic, and so more likely to give up rather than keep trying after some setback. We have a built-in negative bias toward everything we see, and so a negative spin in our judgments. And then there is the problem that our emotions are contagious – so if we are cranky at the office, we can, not only ruin everyone else’s day, but also their effectiveness.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.