"We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear" - Martin Luther King, Jr
|Photo via Giovanni John Orlando from Compfight|
Unfortunately, floods may be a hot topic in many areas around the country this Spring. Spring rains have increased in the past decade except out West where they really need some rain.The unprecedented snow volume will melt - too quickly - and the water will flow out of bounds. In the Midwest we normally have thaws throughout the season to melt some of our snow. That didn't happen this Winter and we have 15 foot snow piles in some areas. Ice jams will be the biggest problem when everything melts at once. The snow has an unusually high water content in it this year and with soggy ground, it will have nowhere to go. In some areas the water is already a soaked sponge and the ground just can't keep up. Once the Spring rains hit, the flood threat will be amplified. Floods aren't just a threat to our homes and infrastructure. They can have long term effects on our ecosystem and food production. The tears of Spring can bring a flood of problems.
- Well water can become contaminated and affected
- Fields will flood and some crops planted last Fall will wash away (Winter Wheat, Hay)
- Orchards may flood damaging fruit trees
- Beneficial nutrients like Nitrogen will be washed away in the soil
- Sandy soils will run like rivers collecting all in one area
- Plants/shrubs/trees are already stressed by a rough winter and may be further weakened and die by heavy flooding
- Tress with shallow roots will fall damaging homes and property
- The lack of drainage in clay soils can be catastrophic
In her book "Bossypants" Tina Fey said that "Some people say 'never let them see you cry', I say if you're so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone". For the most part I think people feel that tears are a sign of weakness or a form of manipulation. Not so fast. I hope that times are finally changing as we enter the age of "Emotional IQ" and we want our leaders to be more human while connecting through emotions. We want our teams to do the same. Tears are what make us human and help us to connect. They have their place as long as they are genuine and shown in an appropriate situation NOT being used to get our own way.
Years ago I the small company that I worked for was bought out. It was an ugly merger from our side. Over 100 people were losing their jobs including one of our senior leaders. I will never forget the day that he was talking to a few of us about the merger. He had tears in his eyes as he talked about all the opportunities for us that were ahead and the growth that we would be a part of. His emotion was raw and his tears were a strength. Although he was losing his job, he was concerned for us and genuinely pleased that we had jobs and some great opportunities ahead. Those were tears of strength and true emotion. I admired him even more that day. His tears encouraged me to make the best of our situation and to make him proud.
I think that we are finally moving forward in business because leaders are finally acknowledging the existence of, and place for, Emotional IQ. We can't just shut off our emotions at 7:30 am when we arrive at work only to turn them back on when we arrive home. We are human and shouldn't have shame in showing our emotions. Tears, grief, frustration, happiness,and joy make us who we are. We want to work with people who care and share their emotions. We want people to understand us and to empathize.
Grow your leadership through your emotions
- Don't fear opening up. Let people see and experience your feelings. Use the words "I feel"
- Tears make you human. Be who you are. Don't be so scared of what others think of you
- Tears aren't a sign of weakness - they allow us to be candid and authentic
- Work on being comfortable with emotion. Rely on emotional strength and control
- Study some of our greatest leaders. They lead with strength and emotion. They self regulate and know how to connect with others on an emotional level
- Showing authentic emotions validates that you are approachable
- People will drop everything and follow a leader who understand them and has conviction
- Emotions say far more than words
- What's so horrible about letting your guard down once in awhile? Your people know that you aren't always in control. Be real and acknowledge it!
- Bring your entire self to work and don't hide behind a fake or emotionless face
- Natural tears have their place. Tears show that it's OK for your teams to show emotion
- Tears help open dialogue and show who we are and what we care about
- Tears can help reinforce peer relationships and strengthen bonds
- Tears may bring issues up to the surface and issues can be addressed
Now, obviously we don't all want to walk around with our heart on our sleeves and bawling at every little thing. What I am saying is that tears can have their place in our work lives. I'm also vehemently encouraging both men AND women to be authentic in sharing emotion through leadership. Some male leaders refuse to show their true emotions for fear of being "weak". Some female leaders go to the opposite extreme with their emotions and are labeled a "cold bitch". What I am advocating is that we act like what we are - human. Be authentic. Share your true emotions. Don't pretend that you don't care or aren't fully and emotionally engaged. You will push people away. You won't form true and strong relationships. People follow people who are like them or those that they look up to. You are human. Show it.
I have been encouraged in the past few years with more leaders showing their emotions and tears. Some politicians and business leaders have been very forthright with their emotions and I admire them. John Boehner cried after winning. Some of our past presidents have cried. The Pope has cried. I just saw Jimmy Carter with tears this morning talking about making a difference. Are they faking it? Probably not. It's a risk showing your emotions and a gamble more of us need to make.
Are you willing to be human and risk leading with tears once in awhile?
|Photo courtesy of Franco Folini via Compfight|