Sometimes, managers and owners are a mystery to their employees. Some employees may describe you as sincere, motivated and deeply invested. Others may say you’re careful, calculated and are impressed with your effectiveness, but might question your intentions and motivation if you fail to reach out on key issues.
This is not uncommon, according to author Kristi Hedges for an article on hbr.org. She says managers fail to be themselves, unintentionally quashing emotional qualities that build followership.
In most companies, being a good manager means projecting a calm, unflappable demeanor. Managers develop strategies to keep a professional face instead of losing composure, and being dispassionate can be an asset.
Based on research from her book, The Inspiration Code, Hedges found that a dispassionate exterior falls flat. Managers need to build engagement and enthusiasm. People are most inspired by leaders who say what they mean, as emotion is the gateway to authenticity.
As a manager, you should harness emotion. It doesn’t have to be an abstract exercise.
Here are 3 straightforward ways to achieve emotional resonance:
1. Set your intention.
Before important conversations or meetings consider: What is the takeaway I want to impart? It might be enthusiasm or gravity. Leaders have a strong influence on the team’s mood or group affect. If you show up tired and distracted, you’ll telegraph those emotions.
2. Be straightforward.
Make an effort to match what you’re saying with the emotions you want to convey. Pepper your talks with straightforward words that signal the tone you’re trying to set. Consider these examples of emotions and words that help convey them.
• Confidence: powerful, assured, proud, significant, ready
• Anger: disappointed, let down, irritated, regretful, frustrated
• Urgency: critical, behind, anxious, missing out, eager
3. Employ emotional appeals.
All leaders need to persuade people to take action. Consider approaches like these:
• We like people who are similar to us: “I consider this team family, and I’ll do whatever I can to represent us.”
• We reciprocate behaviors: “I’ve been glad to make client introductions for you, and now I’m hoping you’ll make an introduction for me.”
• We aim to be consistent: “You’ve said you’re open to creative ideas, so I have one to run by you.”
• We respect authority: “This message comes directly from the CEO, so it’s a priority.”
• We want more of something when it’s scarce: “If we don’t launch our product now, customers will reallocate their year-end budgets.”
• We take action when others are doing so, because there is social proof: “Everyone in our market is advertising this way.”
There’s an important distinction between true and false emotion. Inauthenticity is easy to weed out. The best way to connect to employees is to be transparent about your emotions.