In today’s environment managing the emotions of your team is a leadership imperative. No, this does not mean you need training as a therapist or counselor; it does mean that if you ask people to bring their ‘whole selves’ to the office, you cannot reasonably expect them to leave their emotions at the front door.

There are two broad reasons for this and they fit firmly into the Nature vs Nurture argument.
Nature: Biology dictates that it takes time to get to a place where we can reasonably be expected to manage our emotions.

Simply put, younger people should not be expected to manage their emotions with same consistency as their older colleagues and it is unfair to ask them to do so. Further, there is a likelihood that the stifling of emotional energy from our older colleagues has cut into your team productivity as well.

Nurture: Many younger professionals were raised with the expectation that they share their feelings. They were told not to keep it inside, to release it, and to share it with trusted adults in decision-making positions.

This training (Nurturing) they received seems to have stuck. Many of our colleagues are very comfortable with expressing the depth of their feelings whether in the lunch room or the board room. It is our leadership which must flex to manage this energy.

The leadership challenge is two-fold.

1. To set expectations about what is appropriate – and why – in the workplace. The ‘why’ is the critical and often left out component of this conversation.

2. To create structures that encourage the engagement of the whole person leveraging in person, small group, formal and informal opportunities.

Emotions drive and feed us. If you want the best of your team, know that the best of themselves includes their emotional ability too.