Part 1: The Importance of Emotion in Leadership Communication
Leadership communication depends on understanding the audience, understanding what moves them to listen and what motivates them to act. This understanding requires self-awareness as well as increased awareness of others. Audiences’ openness to a manager and to his or her message either can assist or be a barrier to their receiving the intended message. In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, Robert Cialdini (2001) argues, “no leader can succeed without mastering the art of persuasion.” Just as creating a positive culture aids in the art of persuasion, understanding what motivates others to listen and to act will help as well, thus the importance of emotional understanding for any leader.
Without emotions, leaders cannot communicate with and manage others effectively. In Bar-On developed the concept of the emotional quotient in 1988. The concept states we have an emotional and social knowledge as well as the ability to; Be aware of, understand, and express ourselves; be aware of, understand, and relate to others; deal with strong emotions and control our impulses, and finally, to adapt to change and to solve problems of a personal or a social nature (Bar-On & Parker, 2000).
This concept suggests that emotions begin with the ability to identify and manage emotions in ourselves and in others, but it extends also to the ability to translate these emotions into actions that show flexibility and personal and social problem solving ability. For leadership communication, emotion is as important as the core skills of strategy development, writing, and speaking. “Emotions accounts for 85% of what distinguishes the stars in top leadership positions from low-level performers” (Gary, 2002).
Understanding emotions allows managers to interact with and lead others effectively, and the key to interacting with others and managing relationships successfully is communication: “The basis of any relationship is communication. Without communication, be it sign language, body language, e-mail, or face-to-face conversation, there is no connection and hence no relationship. The importance of effective communication skills to your emotions is crucial, and its value in the workplace is incalculable” (Weisinger, 1998). A leader’s use and choice of words reflect upon whom they are and how well they understand their audiences.
Knowledge of what moves audiences can help managers to create a positive culture, which will make them more persuasive. Drawing on emotions as a source of persuasion often works very well. The leader’s credibility and their ability to create a proper, mutually beneficial frame for a position, connect on the right emotional level with an audience, and communicate through vivid language that makes arguments come alive” (Conger, 1998).
A leader might vary his or her leadership style when the situation warrants it, but the ability to select the most effective style for different...