The First Job of the Leader as They Walk Through the Door

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One of the most important leadership functions you may fulfill today could occur within seconds of your arrival.

Effective leaders know that from the moment they enter a room their first job is to set the emotional temperature. They do this by what they say, how they talk, even by their facial expressions and body language. They know that the team is watching, and they will pick up their “emotional cues” by the signals the leader sends.

One leader I once worked with could be heard almost every morning singing (or more accurately, “bellowing” at the top of his lungs), “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!” as he strolled down the office hallway. Often I knew the size of the burden he was carrying, but he knew his first job was to positively influence the outlook of his team.

One of the leaders I most admire in the world of professional sports is BC Lions general manager and coach, Wally Buono. Despite being the winningest coach in CFL history, this leader continues to grow and learn.

Wally BuonoRecently, after the team’s 6th loss in 7 games, Buono said, “Here’s what I’ve learned over time. The more I get uptight, the more the coaches and players get uptight. I’m learning that, even though this is my 22nd year [as a CFL head coach].

I get reminded occasionally by a number of people that I contribute to the demeanour of the team. The premise there was, from the first moment after the game [the Winnipeg defeat], not to be negative, not to be disruptive, not to be harsh. My words were, ‘I’m very disappointed.’ Then I walked out.” (Vancouver Sun, Monday, August 11, 2011)

As I continue to grow in this area, this is what I’m learning;

  • The morale of your team does not happen by chance.
  • The influence of the leader on the morale of the team is greater than the influence of circumstances.
  • Improving the outlook of your team is not the same as spreading “happy talk.”

This week as you walk into your office remember that your first job is to produce a positive emotional environment for your team.

You might even want to try a chorus or two of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.”

How do you set the emotional temperature of your organization?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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