Friday, 4 September 2015

Could Emotions Actually Be The Sign of Authentic Leadership?

There is a lot of talking (and writing) about leadership these days, and especially about Authentic Leadership.
This is because Leadership is the one quality that is absolutely crucial to business and politics and yet it is so NOT readily available! Look around you and you will see plenty of exceptional managers and great operational business drivers..but Leaders and indeed, Authentic Leaders? I mean people with the strategy mindset, the vision, passion, beahaviours, communication skills, the ability to make things happen, but also the foresight, the kindness, the human touch, the integrity is a daunting list and if you ask me, very few people out there can tick every item on this list. I truly believe however that women inherently have most of the traits required to be Authentic Leaders. But I would argue the fact that too often, whether in a corporate career, in politics or other areas, women appear to forget about the importance of being authentic and believe that to succeed they need to put on a mask and stop being themselves. By this I mean that women - in my experience, particularly those women who are working in highly demanding corporate environment culturally dominated by a alpha-male mindset - often deny themselves the opportunity to be who they really are in fear of being judged as too weak or too soft and thus being overlooked for promotion.

Yet, being ourselves is the best thing we can be. As women, we are likely to experience a great range of emotions. With our families and our friends we can easily cry, whoop for joy, laugh, become angry and opening up because we feel safe and supported. But when it comes to the work environment, we are more likely to repress positive as much as negative emotions, as if they are career-enemies, perhaps a sign of irrational, out-of-control behaviour...something a leader cannot afford to show.

However, 'emotions' as strong feelings or passions (with a slightly negative connotations to it) are a relatively modern concept. If we go back to the original meaning or ethymology of the word, the latin verb 'movere' meaning 'to move' takes center stage. So emotions are natural, ancestral forces that push us to act. When I see a lion and feel the fear, I can flee or decide whether it is a fight worth having. Without that emotion I could be dead! On the other hand I can actually process information to decide I can fight. So emotions also enable us to analyse, process and review information. This is an important function in any leadership role!

So while I am not advocating that professional women - and men for that matter - should readily display their emotions without control or thoughtfulness, I believe that emotions can be used as powerful energies to drive actions and ignite our thinking process. Furthermore, I believe that natural, positive, emotional responses such as laughther can actually engage the hearts and the minds of people and really show us for what we really are as human beings, fostering trust and building relationships that every leader needs.

But what is your view and experience of using and displaying emotions in a working environment? As a woman, do you fear being judged as 'too emotional'? Please comment and feedback below, I would love to hear!    

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here. 


  1. Interesting post! The sign can be everything! And I think that many people don't understand who is "alpha woman" but they should know it! Read it must open your eyes to this subject and you will know many new things! Enjoy)

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