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Lead With Intellect vs. Emotion

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I recently read an interesting article on compensating for emotional or intellectual leadership styles.   The article described the balance between the intellectual (or cognitive) and the emotional side of our leadership styles. In a literal sense, we never make purely “rational” decisions — the emotional side of our brain is always involved to some degree. As the latest research from neuroscientists point out, feelings guide and inform everything we do, and our emotions help the brain (consciously and unconsciously) make sense of those feelings. From a clinical perspective, someone who is truly dissociative is not healthy and you would not want them in a leadership position.

I realize the author is using the term loosely, but I have worked with leaders who take great pride in being “unemotional,” a term they seem to feel is synonymous with rational. Simply put, pure “rationality” prevents one from gleaning the intelligence from the emotions. Emotions orient us, tell us what’s important, and inform our decision-making constantly. If one is “dissociative” or cut off from emotions, making the simplest of decisions becomes problematic. If you have heard my presentation on employee engagement, you understand how important the role of emotion is in the workplace.

But as the author has said, the notion of balance is the key point. It is less about two “separate” styles than it is about flexible movement along a continuum. Getting stuck in any one position, unwilling or unable to shift according to the situation is a key challenge for today’s leaders. I see it most pronounced in managers — promoted to a position where they are now expected to lead but the promotion didn’t include any new skills to actually lead human beings.

BEST PRACTICES TIP:  Be careful about seeing emotion and intellect as two distinct styles or states of mind.  While someone’s behavior may comfortably “fit” into one of these categories, our brains do not operate distinctly in one or the other.  It’s always both.

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The following comments are for Engagient's Employee Engagement Seminar for Managers

We were trying to get the buy-in from our Management team, prior to rolling out a new Performance Review Process and move the management style away from the industrial age style in an attempt to get our employees more engaged.  For the last 45 years we have been working under the old world style of management and old habits die hard.  The Engagient seminar on Employee Engagement was exactly what we were looking to install at Perfect Plastic Printing.

Don presented the information with a passion and energy that impacted every participant.  The information presented represented the results of research and science as opposed to just one more consultant’s opinion.  This made the buy-in so much easier.  The combination of instruction and small group exercises kept the class from getting tired and kept the information geared more toward our business as opposed to generalizing information.  Don was extremely knowledgeable on the subject and this was apparent when he answered participant questions.  He kept the conversations light and humorous, but had you believing that getting your employees more engaged is crucial to surviving in business today.  The feedback from the Management team on the seminar was all positive. Don was one of the best presenters that we have experienced at Perfect Plastic Printing.

--Carl Valenti
Director of Facilities
Perfect Plastic Printing
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