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Leaders (don't) cry
They become actually better leaders by doing so
Pinecone Leadership was founded to build a movement of leaders in deeper contact with inner and outer nature. They offer season- and nature-based development programs that strengthen leaders’ ability to cultivate healthy growth in their ecosystems. An important part of this work is to be able to practice developing emotional intelligence and navigating the deeper aspect of the human as a leader.
It’s hard to achieve in daily life, especially with so much stigma attached to vulnerability and authenticity.
In the traditional media it is portrayed and argued that leaders should avoid crying at work as it can undermine their authority and halt the exchange of ideas.
The claims that crying is not constructive and signals weakness may be true if the goal is control, but is it true if the goal is development?
Crying is not just an opportunity to regulate or “calm down” but also an opportunity to digest and grow.
The article suggests that authentic emotions in a professional environment are manipulative and undermine a leader’s authority and credibility. It’s an unnuanced assertion that not only is unrealistic, but also contributes to reinforcing a potentially toxic norm: that leaders should be emotionally untouchable and always appear strong, cold, and controlled to succeed.
Is it any wonder that working life is characterised by emotional stagnation, overwhelm, burnout, and low engagement with these types of ideals?
Vulnerability is not the same as weakness
Change often leads to fear and insecurity, which in turn can create security-seeking cultures that will maintain the status quo. A leader who is confident enough to show vulnerability contributes to creating safe spaces and cultures where people can be present with their full capacity. Vulnerability is an opportunity to show that one is an engaged and empathetic person who dares to invite employees into their personal space.
Emotionally developed leaders build cultures that can capture this emotional nourishment in a constructive way that leads to collective growth.
Instead of advising leaders to avoid crying at work, leaders should be encouraged to develop their emotional intelligence and maturity. We must practice how to navigate and handle emotions in a healthy and constructive way, both for ourselves and our employees.
How else can we expect to develop robust, resilient, and innovative employees who are equipped to withstand change and meet future challenges?
Especially going forward, where the cold, controlled, and analytical leadership skills are increasingly becoming a hygiene factor due to systems and technology like AI, we need to increase the focus on the human aspect, and practice leading emotional intelligence.
Companies indeed have much to gain by digesting the difficult and turning it into nourishment for growth.
Crying is not exclusively positive or negative
The article with the catchy headline “Leaders should not cry at work+” presents a very one-sided angle. Crying can certainly be damaging to the workplace, but it’s not about whether you cry or not - it’s about how.
If you shed some tears because you feel empathy, because you are moved or proud of what the department has achieved, or because you are passionately committed to the problem your company is trying to solve - is it then negative? Is it negative if it shows a leader who is working on themselves, and who is emptying a heavy backpack in a way that the team can learn from?
If you start crying at every challenge or confrontation, or if it appears that one deliberately uses crying as a tool to manipulate, it kills constructive dialogue and is of course wrong. But, should we really promote a business culture that suppresses emotions?
Time, place, and space
Although strong emotions can be constructive, it should not happen too much in work situations. To avoid suppression, emotional development work should preferably take place in specially adapted settings, with therapists or in dedicated development circles with full presence
One can argue that this is a private responsibility, but the workplace must increasingly take into account the value of working with emotional intelligence. It can actually be a significant loss for the company if they miss this potent nourishment or, even worse, suppress it.
The essence of a “growth mindset” is to have genuine curiosity around what is difficult and uncomfortable. When emotions are rejected in a work context, we miss out on development in one of the few areas where humans are actually stronger than machines.
Yes, it is difficult and potentially time-consuming to give more space to a deeper part of humanity in the workplace. Therefore, we need to practice it in settings outside the daily work.
Pinecone Leadership is about to start their 6th leadership 4-months program from November 2023 to Februar 2024 after fantastic feedback from participants, and it is becoming a solid community of leaders.
Please read HERE for more info.