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Whirling Chief

Looking Inside to Lead Ahead

One of our clients we respect deeply asked us in the previous weeks how to better ‘control emotions’ in the workplace.

This is a subject majority of us struggle with in life, especially in context of our work environments, where stress levels are often too high. Therefore, we wanted to share some pragmatic tips.

First and foremost, we invite our leaders to rethink terminology. The word ‘control’ in the context of emotions implies there may be a ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way of being; where in reality, our human way of being is quiet complex and natural.

We find it often helps to rethink the vocabulary around how we understand, connect to and better manage our emotional states if we want to build stronger will to gain emotional agility. When we accept the complexity of our various states and allow ourselves space to just feel, we grow mental and physical capacity to better navigate through our emotions. On the other side, when we grow a judgment around how we may be feeling, we literally incapacitate ourselves and push our natural states to ‘become’ a particular way.

Designer Ingred Fetell Lee puts it beautifully in this example…

“Adults, who exhibit genuine joy are often dismissed as childish, too feminine, unserious, or self-indulgent, so we hold ourselves back from joy.”

Dr. Susan David of Harvard Business School writes in depth about how our emotional state develops, the why and the how of understanding our insights in her book, Emotional Agility.

It is equally important to recognize emotions are incredibly valuable and offer a bounty of benefits. When we are able to recognize and process them correctly; when we grow skill to cope with them effectively, we can learn a lot about who we are, our unique needs and desires.

Emotions send us key messages at critical times, which help us connect to our core way of ‘being‘.

There are five specific traits or behaviors we often observe from people leaders who are recognized for their emotional agility in the workplaces we serve:

  1. They keep clear boundaries in regards to their values,
  2. They are not afraid to show up to their emotions (they will get to the very bottom of why they are angry and nicely, for example),
  3. They are mindful about creating space to respond to the emotion and not react,
  4. They are willing to initiate a conversation and/or to act if something needs to be said or done,
  5. They show and share desire to shift to positive state of mind after effectively managing conflict.

Recognize there are two specific pre-requisites to growing emotional agility (that’s not specifically called out above): getting clarity around one’s values and practicing courage. Without those two attributes, it becomes that much more difficult to grow emotional insight.

If you are looking to learn more about your unique way of being, if you want to grow emotional agility in the workplace and/or want to rethink how you should up as a people leader, please note an executive coach (of credible background and experience !!!) can be of great help.

To that end and with their permission, we would like to share a few names of accredited, capable and confident coaches (in no particular order) we and/or our clients have worked with in the near past and we have received great value through the experiences:

If you find yourself in need, do seek one out.

You’ll be amazed how much you can make progress with company in your journey.


  • 4 July 2018

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