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Three Tasks for Every Leader

Source | LinkedIn : By Daniel Goleman

Whether you’re the CEO of a large company or the head of a small production team, all leaders share similar responsibilities. To work effectively with a group, big or small, every leader must manage meaning, set the emotional tone, and put people in the right emotional range for their best performance. These three core leadership tasks came up in a recent conversation I had with my colleague, George Kohlrieser, as part of an upcoming video series on emotional intelligence competencies necessary to develop organizational and individual leadership skills.

What is Resonant Leadership?

Resonance literally means sound moving on the same wavelength. In contrast, dissonance occurs when waves of sound bump into each other and don’t flow together. Leaders’ emotions are like sound waves, impacting the emotional states of peoplearound them. Resonant leaders help everyone onto a positive wavelength. In contrast, leaders who are negative and don’t manage their emotions create dissonance.

In Primal Leadership, which I coauthored with Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, we describe four styles of leadership that create resonance in a group: Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, and Democratic. Each style positively impacts a group’s climate and, used appropriately, can produce results. The three tasks are key parts of each of those styles.

Managing Meaning

Leaders manage meaning every day. Effective leaders provide people with a clear understanding of the mission of the group or organization. Framing day-to-day events in the context of that mission helps group members understand what’s going on and how to make sense of their situation. Perhaps most importantly, resonant leaders help everyone know where they’re going.

Setting the Emotional Tone

All leaders set the emotional tone for their groups, for better or worse. A resonant leader maintains a positive tone, first by managing herself or himself. Such a mood flows outward from leaders who are calm, clear, and know where the group is going. Contrast that to a leader who broadcasts their agitation and lack of direction. Even in the midst of challenging circumstances, a leader can steer the group toward calm.

Positive Performance

What supports people to perform at their best? Sigal Barsade at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has conducted research on the impact of emotions on work performance. Barsade and other researchers have found that employee performance improves when leaders spread enthusiasm, motivation, and a shared sense of meaning. Negative emotions such as fear or anger used carefully may provide a brief boost in performance but become toxic in the long-term.

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