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Emotion at work

Ever found yourself in an auction bidding war with someone who simply wanted the purchase more than you?  Up and up the price goes, bid by counter-bid, until your budget’s long gone and you’re exhausted from the paddle-waving that nearly broke your piggybank.

This is called “emotional buying”, and professional salespeople are taught to build emotion because it increases the likelihood of turning an interested prospect into a committed buyer. 

So why is it that – in the leadership context – women are advised to be less emotional, and to focus more on facts than feeling?  Wouldn’t being more committed and personally involved actually increase your leadership grit and determination to succeed?

The fact is, both men and women have emotions, yet stereotypes deem the dominant emotions of women inappropriate in leadership.  When was the last time you heard a bloke being told to be less bullish in closing a deal?  It’s still emotion, just different.

So women are told not to take feedback personally – yet isn’t the whole idea of feedback to engender personal change?  And to be detached in executing strategy – while management pays HR consultants to advise the opposite, in the interests of staff engagement and loyalty.

I’ve noticed that women who are asked to withhold their emotions at work become reluctant to speak out for fear of being tarred with the “too emotional” brush.  The result is internalization, group think, feelings of disempowerment and increased stress levels.

So next time you vent your frustrations on a chick flick instead of at the leadership table, remember the lioness in you.  You can roar as the lioness, and still be a lady.  That’s what sphinxx leadership is all about – there is a place for both the lady and the lioness on every leadership team.


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