Chief Emotional Officer (CEO)

Darren Hardy, Publisher of Success magazine, hit the nail on the head in his blog post Becoming the True CEO of Your Company. The essence of the article addressed one of the biggest issues I see in most companies:

“For your business to perform well, your people have to perform well. For your people to perform well, they have to feel well. The critical factor determining the health, vigor and future of your company is the health, vigor and emotional state of the people in your company or on your team. Period.” Darren Hardy

Whether you are the CEO or just leader of a small team, the reality is that you are the CEO of your team. A critical component of every leader’s scorecard should include their ability to achieve the desired emotions of their teammates. Hardy suggests that you change your view of your title from “Chief Executive Officer” to “Chief Emotional Officer.” This is a big shift for most leaders I see. Typically, they are having more bad days than good days. Or their bad days are so bad that the fallout erases the good days from team-members’ memories.

While many leaders would agree with Hardy’s observation, I find that most do not want or know how to address emotions. Many leaders are just poor at this and/or believe that this is not their job.

Here are some real examples that I hope you cannot identify with:

  • A CEO Hires First Salesperson – From the salesperson’s perspective, he/she has taken a job in a new industry segment. A fast track to performance is six months to develop a good understanding of products and services, develop a strong sales pipeline, and to convert the good opportunities into sales. From the small company owner’s perspective, adding a high-powered salesperson hits the bottom line hard until sales start to come in. Rather than creating a nurturing environment, within two weeks of employing the new person, the CEO comes in not happy with cash flow. Instead of controlling emotions, the CEO takes his displeasure out on the salesperson. Next thing out of the leader’s mouth, “If you do not bring in significant sales within 90 days I am going to fire you!” This was not the last time that the CEO made such a comment to the salesperson. Result: The salesperson promptly started looking for a new job and never gave full effort to the current one. Before the 90 days was up, a new job was found.
  • Senior Manager Regularly Loses Emotional Control –  This is a person you never want to make a mistake around. While the leader actually cares about people, the concern gets trampled by emotional outbursts. On one side, he likes to give young employees, who typically lack professional maturity, a chance to be successful. Howeverrather than seeing the requirement to help these subordinates to develop professional maturity, the leader harshly expresses how he feels about the person and how embarrassed and ashamed that person should be for making the mistake. He even goes so far as to punish employees publicly. Result: Most employees give less than 100% because they are tired of being verbally abused. They do the minimum required to keep their job,and little more.

In both of the above examples, the leaders are causing the outcomes while blaming employees for poor work ethic.  Their environments both have some positive attributes, and some people are able to excel in spite of the leadership. However, these become the exceptions rather than the rule. The true issue is that these leaders fail to see the need to be the Chief Emotional Officer.

I recommend that you do the following on a daily basis:

  1. Rate Your Emotional Control (Scale 1 to 10, 10 being the most positive): Grade yourself on how well you controlled your emotions. Concentrate mostly on the stressful events and those that did not go as planned. It is easy to have emotional control and have a positive environment when everything goes your way. The real test is when obstacles arise.
  2. Rate the Emotional State of Your Team Members (Scale 1 to 10, 10 being the most positive) : Is there a hint of positive nervous energy? I am referring to the energy found in players that are confident in themselves and their team members, and believe the team has the capacity to win? Listen to conversations between one another, and on the phone with others. Are they more focused on constraints, complaints, why something can’t be done, and what’s wrong, or are their conversations hopeful, inspired, excited, supportive, encouraging of others and ambitious? Either way… you caused it.
  3. Start Redirecting the Conversation: Chairman of Joie de Vivre (owner of 30 hotels) Chip Conley said to Darren Hardy, “Managers try to find answers, but leaders ask great questions.” Redirect the conversation through a series of questions, and manage your emotions so that your employees perceive you as hopeful, inspired, excited, supportive, etc.
  4. Lead by Example: As the leader you are always the one who has to do first what you want done, or be what you want others to become. As Chip put it, “You need to understand the ‘ripple effect’ in your company and be mindful of your actions. You are the emotional thermostat for the group you lead”

Make a list of the emotions you want to see in your people (e.g. positivity, excitement, hopefulness, confidence, etc.) Rate yourself (Scale 1 to 10) on how well you are consistently modeling these emotions to your team, particularly when the chips are down. Next identify how you can improve your rating on how you demonstrate each.

Imagine for a moment that your team possessed all the emotions you wrote down… think how unstoppable you’d all be! Think of the difference you could make in the world by bringing your valuable service to the marketplace.

Howard Shore is an executive leadership coach and founder of Activate Group Inc., based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to executive leadership. To learn more about executive leadership coaching through AGI, please contact Howard at 305.722.7213 or email him.