Emotions Are Good For Leaders – and For an Organization’s Performance, Too

Most readers know that I’m focused these days on the intersection of culture, organization performance, and humanity in the workplace.

Deloitte’s new culture change solution unit, CulturePath, has just published a white paper that has an interesting spin on culture, organization performance and employee emotion. This statement in the executive summary of  Take your corporate culture off cruise control; Power up the emotive engine in your workplacereally caught my eye:

A variety of forces are coming together to make cultural alignment a priority for most companies… By getting deeper into how cultures work, and by pushing the emotional connections, companies can actively manage their culture to drive critical business outcomes.”

I believe “emotional connections” is another way of describing humanity. So I read the rest of the report with interest.

deloitte-culturepath-1Culture and engagement a top challenge for executives

Deloitte reports (through its annual Global Human Capital Trends report) that 87 percent of executives cite “culture and engagement,” the highest of all HR-related challenges, as one of their top challenges – with a full 50 percent describing the challenge as very important.

This is stunning. Whether or not 87 percent of executives are expressing their concern about their organization’s culture and the state of employee engagement in that organization is beside the point.

Culture is becoming more than strategy’s breakfast. It’s becoming a context within which leaders are beginning to pay attention to human beings rather than skill sets. And this new report gives some insight into just why executives are paying to attention to emotion and humanity.

The section, “Putting emotion in the culture equation” is another attempt by consultants and researchers to emphasize the value of the human and the value of the heart.

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3 ways to emotionally connect with talent

We need this. Deloitte’s particular push, aligning culture with business strategy, seems the right way to go and suggests that there are three primary avenues to make emotional connections with talent:

  1. Higher purpose – Pride in the mission helps lead to commitment to the organization as a whole;
  2. Examples from the top – The stories and actions from leaders at the top have power much greater than any “program” communication
  3. Participation – By linking the deeds of individuals at every level to larger goals, meaning can be generated across the organization. If every action is linked to the higher purpose, talent will generally be more committed.

It’s becoming more and more clear that connecting emotionally to employees through their humanity is a winning approach to innovation, productivity, competitiveness, and top- and bottom-line growth. Leaders who focus on building their trustworthiness, accessibility and comfort with transparency are far more likely to appear human and to relate more effectively with the humans in their workforce.

As it turns out, emotions are a good thing. And wearing your heart on your sleeve just might make you a better leader – and improve your organization’s performance as well.

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at ChinaGorman.com.

China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. She is a sought-after consultant, speaker and writer bringing the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation, and strengthening the business impact of Human Resources.

Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as the Advisory Boards of Elevated Careers, the Workforce Institute at Kronos, and WorldBlu. Addtionally, she chairs the Globoforce WorkHuman Advisory Board and the Universum North America Board. China is the author of the popular blog Data Point Tuesday, and is published and frequently quoted in media properties like Fortune, TLNT, Huffington Post, Inc., Fast Company, U.S. News & World Report and many others.

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