Emotion and Leadership 1

Emotion and Leadership Part 1

The area of emotion in the workplace is one that is easily overlooked by top level management. Previous to the last decade emotions in the workplace have mainly been discussed as a hindrance to good management, as a distraction to rational decision making or a by-product of interpersonal conflicts.

More recently the role of emotions in the workplace has become clear through research in the organisational psychology literature. These two articles will focus on the area of emotion in the workplace as it relates to leadership. Fostering positive relationships in the workplace is an essential element of leadership. In order to do this an awareness of the importance of emotions in developing positive relationships is essential.

Brotheridge and Lee (2008) highlight that emotions serve as ‘the context, content, process, and the result of managerial work’. Emotion is inherent to the practice of leadership and all actions of an organisation are inseparable and influenced by emotions (Crawford, 2007).

Expectations of the type, strength and variety of emotions displayed by leaders differ greatly based on number of factors. The type of organisation involved, the profession, and social norms held by peers, supervisors, followers and customers of the organisation all play a role in determining the type of emotional displays expected of managers.

Humphreys et al (2008) highlight that in comparison to service workers managers are required to display a variety of emotions including friendliness, sympathy and social-control emotions, but they also must exercise a degree of judgement and control over their emotional expressions.

It becomes clear in exploring these issues that aside from regulating their own emotions managers and leaders often have to deal with and manage the emotional behaviour of others (Ostell, 1996); in this way leaders also become emotion managers.

Amber Hanna is an Organisational Psychologist at DavittCorporatePartners – Corporate Psychologists


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