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Long ago, in a land far far away, the workplace was not a place where you were encouraged to show your feelings. When I started work, it was very much “leave your emotions by the door when you come in. We don’t do feelings!


Thankfully we have come a long way since then. But just how far have we come? As leaders, how effective are we at expressing and managing our emotions and noticing the impact of how we feel? Are we encouraging our people to do the same? How do we want our people to feel at work? Have you ever asked them?


When it comes to creating culture, most leaders focus on how their people think and behave, which is hugely important. However, it’s only part of the picture.


Research shared in the Harvard Business Review recently showed that emotions are central to building the right culture. Those companies that create and maintain a positive emotional culture have lots to gain: from lower absenteeism and less burnout to greater teamwork and job satisfaction.


Earlier this year I was invited to work with a large team.  An organisational restructure plus the pandemic had taken its toll. It had left people feeling unsettled and generally discombobulated.


My mission (which I chose to accept) was to design and deliver some team development and coaching sessions that would help them improve the working relationships across their teams so people were better able to manage and appreciate their differences.


At the briefing meeting with the leadership team, I asked what emotions were displayed on a regular basis. Fear, frustration and anxiety made the top 5.


When I asked them what they would like people to feel the responses included energised, content, and appreciative.


We then got to work on what needed to be changed. Three team members told me that whenever they were getting ready to join an MS Teams call for their regular team meeting they felt anxious.


“We don’t know what mood our manager will be in when we hit the Join Meeting button”.


When we dug a little deeper,

  • “He rolls his eyes and tuts when we make any suggestions”.
  • “He interrupts all the time”
  • “We don’t feel heard.”
  • “It makes us feel we aren’t good enough and we have done something wrong.”
  • “He is a nice enough person, but he isn’t very interested in us.”


What followed was the facilitation of some courageous conversations! Getting us talking more about the “f” word in our workplaces is essential if we want better performance, quality, and customer service.


We want our healthcare professionals to feel compassion not overwhelm, our investment bankers and security professionals to have a healthy amount of fear not be indifferent. We want our leaders to feel kind and caring not indifferent and we want to feel that we are valued and our contribution matters.


If you and your team want more of the “f” word in your organisation I would love a conversation. Please get in touch.

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